iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Marshall Fine

GET UPDATES FROM Marshall Fine

A World of Bad Ideas

Posted: 08/22/11 09:00 AM ET

The world is full of bad ideas -- and the entertainment industry is no exception. It's also filled with people who don't recognize them as such.

I mean, I understand why Ridley Scott might be tempted to make a prequel to Alien, a movie that keeps on giving because its mythology is malleable enough to withstand explorations of its pre- and post-history.

But another trip to the Blade Runner well? Why why why?

Let's start by saying that, from my original review when it opened in 1982 through the various "director's cut" iterations, I've always ranked Blade Runner as one of the most overrated films in Scott's oeuvre -- a triumph of style over substance, in which the design far outshone the actual dramatics. It took a perfectly good Philip K. Dick novel and tarted it up for Hollywood, with just a sheen of the profundity that Dick brought to it.

So why go back? A remake seems redundant -- hell, most remakes seem redundant. A sequel? A prequel? Why bother? This was a story that was self-contained.

Why make it? Probably for the same reason that Ridley's equally overrated brother, Tony, just announced that he's going to remake Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch. The Scott motto must be: We don't want to tamper with perfection. We want to f*** it up completely.

(I'll save for a later day my diatribe on why Ridley and Tony Scott are two of the most overrated directors of the past 30 years -- though, to be fair, I've already had a go at Tony.)

Another bad idea -- one which, hopefully, has been quashed: that Lone Ranger movie that was going to star Johnny Depp as Tonto and was set to cost $250 million. Thankfully, Disney (which seems to specialize in high-concept dreck these days) pulled the plug, figuring that guys on horseback shouldn't cost twice what the National Endowment for the Arts' budget is, particularly when westerns are more a novelty than a mainstream form of entertainment.

When questions along those lines ($250 million for a western?) were raised, the camps of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski (who gave us the similarly overblown and bloated Pirates of the Caribbean series) said the money would be spent on a railroad train sequence that out-railroad-trained all other railroad-train sequences.

Hey guys, I have three letters for you: CGI.

Finally, one last set of bad ideas: The geniuses at American Movie Classics lucked into three hits with Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Walking Dead. Of course, they had little or nothing to do with actually creating the shows -- but that didn't stop them from deciding that what these shows needed is... more profits. So they're dicking around with the creators -- as though quality hit shows grow on trees or are now the AMC birthright.

They battled with Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner to get him to trim characters and -- this is the best one -- make each episode a couple of minutes shorter so they could sell more commercials. If there was ever an argument for using a DVR to record the show -- then skip the commercials while watching it -- this is it.

They also decided to meddle with Vince Gilligan at Breaking Bad -- to the point that the show's producing studio was trying to move the show to another network. And they fired Frank Darabont, the show-runner for their only real ratings hit, Walking Dead, for trying to take the time to make the show good.

Hey, AMC doofuses -- you were a third-rate cable network that had lost even the cache of showing quality classic films without commercials when you lucked into these shows. Don't mess with the goose or you'll find yourself decidedly short of golden eggs.

Find more reviews, interviews and commentary on my website..

 
 
 

Follow Marshall Fine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Marshall Fine