Shyamalan, Odenkirk, Funko Pop! – Weekly Round Up: There was a time, in the late 90s, when M Night Shyamalan was recognized as one of the most exciting new talents in film. He was an auteur, who seemingly had complete creative control and an interesting and unique voice. He blended melodrama and horror, melodrama and superheroes, melodrama and aliens… yeah, you get the picture.
The truth was that Shyamalan just wasn’t as good as the hype around him would have suggested. And part of the problem was that Shyamalan himself seemed to also believe that hype, comparing himself favorably to Picasso was one of the highlights of his weird, public downfall. And while I really like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and Signs was one of those movies that I thought was really clever as a kid, I admit that on reflection, none of these films were all that great.
There were moments of greatness in them, but ultimately, they fall flat; lost in forced dialogue, poor staging, and some really, really boring filmmaking. And it seems the world caught on by the time The Village rolled around in 2004. It may have been his big screen adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender the put the (supposed) final nail in his coffin, but Shyamalan was on his way to the grave way before then.
And then, in 2015, he returned with a found-footage thriller called The Visit. The Visit saw him team with Jason Blum, of horror production company Blumhouse, and suddenly things seemed to be on the up. The Blumhouse model of smaller budget, director lead projects work for Shyamalan, and this was cemented in 2017, with the release of his next movie Split.
Split, as we all know, turned out to be a surprise sequel to his early movie Unbreakable, and while the third entry into the trilogy, this years Glass, turned out to be a great big, steaming pile of nothing, it’s difficult to deny that Shyamalan, like Tarantino, remains one of the very few directors who’s name carries clout and who is willing to take peculiar, often out there, creative risks.
So the news this week that Blumhouse/Universal have eagerly signed him up to write and direct two new movies, back to back, isn’t so much of a surprise as it is a “well duh!”. Quite what these two new movies will turn out to be is anyone’s guess, but having tackled the superhero sub-genre three times now, it’s fairly safe to say he will likely be jumping on to something else.
There have been suggestions that these two movies could in fact be Parts 1 and 2 of single story, although nothing is confirmed yet. Either way, anything new from Shyamalan at this point remains at the very least interesting. We’ll have more news on this as and when there is some.
That’s not the only Universal news this week. In fact, that’s not the only Universal news about original movies this week. It seems, in the age of remakes, reboots, sequels, shared universes, franchises… ugh, everything the Dark Overlords at Disney insist upon inflicting upon us, Universal is a beacon of hope. Who knew? I suppose they have Fast and Furious… so, maybe forget that.
Anyway, the point is this week saw the announcement that the previously titled “Untitled Universal Event Film” (catchy title, eh?), which is scheduled for August 2020, will in fact not be a new Fast and Furious, as some had speculated, but is actually an original revenge thriller called Nobody.
And if the fact that it’s an original “event movie” wasn’t cool enough, it turns out will also be written by Derek Kolstad, who wrote John Wick, John Wick: Chapter Two, and co-wrote John Wick: Chapter Three. Given that all three of the John Wick movies have been genuinely entertaining, original, cine-literate masterclasses in practical action and stunt work, that has me very excited to see what he has to offer up here.
But that’s not all. As if this movie didn’t already sound awesome, it will also star Bob Odenkirk! The comedian is perhaps best known for his role as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad and that show’s spin-off, Better Call Saul. Odenkirk, thought, has a long and interesting career, and has proven himself as a genuine screen presence more than once. Seeing him finally get top billing in a big-budget studio movie is great. The fact that it’s an original, written by the guy behind John Wick, is ever better.
But, not content to deliver just worthwhile news, Hollywood have some tricks up their sleeves. Don’t you worry, there’s still plenty of crap out there to off-set the interesting stuff.
Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures, for those of you lucky enough not to know, are stupid looking plastic toys that are made in the likeness of iconic characters and people from pop-culture. They’re collectables (although there are loads of them, and everybody seems to collect them, so just how collectable they actually are remains a mystery to me. I’ll be honest, though, I know nothing about them beyond what I’ve seen online), and for reasons wholly inexplicable, are super popular.
Warner Animation are behind the Funko Pop! Movie, and my guess is that the goal is to repeat the success of Lord and Millar’s The LEGO Movie. Obviously, that worked out so well for Playmobil, so why not? Right? Right!? It will likely draw from a plethora of licensed characters, which is similar to The LEGO Movie, but nothing much is really known about it at this stage.
Luckily, this thing won’t be inflicted upon us anytime soon, as it hasn’t even been given a release date. But Warner Animation do have the upcoming Scooby Doo reboot, called simply Scoob, and the live-action/animation Tom & Jerry movie on their slate for 2020, so maybe they’ll earn some goodwill and prove me wrong.
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