Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday fun: of "Red Tails" and the Gods of Westeros

I've only read the first book in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series of fantasy novels, and though I thoroughly enjoyed it, I've decided to stop so that I can be surprised by what unfolds in season two and beyond of HBO's glorious "Game of Thrones."

Why not read the books and just see how the show differs? Well, because, and I certainly don't mean this as a criticism, but very rarely have I seen a show or movie that stuck so closely to its source material. When you're starting with something this good, there's really no reason to monkey with it too much, and if anything "Game of Thrones" proves it's sometimes perfectly OK to go exactly by the book.

And, not surprisingly since the show seemed to go up in the ratings with each episode, HBO co-President Richard Plepler said this week that, “We told [author George R.R. Martin] we’d go as long as he keeps writing” those books, of which there are now five (including this year's "A Dance of Dragons.")

So, I tell you all this to tell you that the photo above is of the statues of the Gods of Westeros from the filming of season two of "Game of Thrones," but I, like probably many of you, we'll have to tune in to find out exactly what role they'll play in the series, and can't wait to find out.

And after that today, the main event is the first trailer for "Red Tails" from director Anthony Hemingway and Lucasfilm. My first thought upon watching it was how in the world has it taken so long for there to be an epic feature film about the Tuskegee Airmen? (There was, of course, "The Tuskegee Airmen" from 1995, but that was just a HBO movie ... albeit a pretty good one.)

So, will this be the grand treatment these heroes deserve? Well, not surprisingly, it looks fantastic. The cast, featuring Terrence Howard and Bryan Cranston, among others, is solid. The major question is if Hemingway, who up until now has only directed a long string of TV shows (though having honed his skills David Simon's "The Wire" and now "Treme," he's certainly learning from a master) is able to pull this all off.

And along with releasing this trailer, Lucasfilm has also announced just when we'll find out how all this turned out: Jan. 20. Enjoy the trailer, and if you're looking for some good summertime movie entertainment, ignore what a solid majority of critics have said and take a chance on "Cowboys and Aliens." Peace out.


Anonymous said...

Disagree entirely.

The big question is not the direction. The big question is whether the script is new, dynamic and human. And not a cliched archetype of the hero story.

To look back on the Lucas ouvre is to look back and remarkable ideas well executed visually. But anyone who thinks the line-by-line dialogue or overall originality in the written scripts of Stars Wars or even American Graffitti are anything but second-rate -- they aren't listening with a human ear. Han Solo and Princess Leia bantering is as good as it gets, and it's pretty cringe-worthy in retrospect.

Lucas spends all his intellect on story and visuals. Dialogue? He won't do the hard work of creating real dialogue and it shows. It always show.

No director can get beyond that. No actor either.

Anonymous said...

Lucas' two best scripts were American Graffitti and the first Star Wars and I'll admit the latter may have been re-written and rearranged on the fly during shooting because the original script reads horribly. But Lucas has been pretty good at coming up with story ideas and passing them on to other screenwriters and directors while he played the role of supervisor/producer. The two best examples of this are Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

While it remains to be seen if Red Tails is any good it does at least fall into that second category. It was written and directed by people OTHER than Lucas. At least allegedly. Maybe he did some rewrites and for certain he took over some reshoots (probably all of them having to deal with scenes with tons of special effects). But again the man was not the director or screenwriter of this film.

He has been wanting to do Red Tails for a long time and back in 1990 there was a press release that production was about to start for the movie. It never happened probably because Lucas didn't want to do those aerial battles until he could do them right. That's one possible reason for the delayed release of this movie which finished filming most of the scenes with the actors about two years ago.

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