Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

IS AVATAR PUTTING US ON? or HOW TO CHEAT @ THE BOX OFFICE

2010/02/19

We’re back from our break and were asking ourselves what makes Cameron & Co. think they can claim AVATAR is the “highest grossing film” ever? It’s all over the news, just as AVATAR long before anyone had ever seen the film. So is this just another strategy of the decade’s biggest marketing joke or can they back up their claim sufficiently? We decided to do some math.

We’re not good at math, but maybe some of this makes sense. Here’s a summary of what we found in the AVATAR files (but with stats changing daily this might look different soon).

Picture this: so far AVATAR has just cracked TITANIC’s old record of about US$ 1.8 billion worldwide and is indeed the highest grossing film by absolute numbers now. But figures weren’t figures if they weren’t flexible as every student of economics learns during his first semester in a seminar called How to cheat with statistics (sic!). We figured it’s time to put Cameron’s claim to test. It’s time the empire cheats back.

AVATAR obviously whitewashed reality as far as two major benchmarks are concerned. First of all, as far as money goes AVATAR clearly compares apples to oranges, or Na’vi to Indians for that matter: US$ 1.8 billion today are competing with the “second highest grossing film” TITANIC which achieved a box office result of US$ 1.8 billion as well. Eliminating the effects of inflation as well as today’s higher ticket prices of about US$ 7 per ticket vs. US$ 4.5 per ticket average back then means that TITANIC has grossed US$ 2.7 Billion by today’s standards actually. So AVATAR is still about US$ 900 Mio short.

Add to this that AVATAR can rake in big bucks from distribution channels that didn’t exist when TITANIC made mothers-in-law sob like four-year-olds: 3D cinemas, digital cinemas and IMAX. As the price per ticket can be up to double of what a regular ticket costs we’d have to evaluate how many people have watched AVATAR in 3D etc. Unfortunately the AVATAR studio couldn’t be bothered to reveal the figures. Too bad, as this means that AVATAR can achieve a higher gross income with far less people watching it than any other blockbuster so far.

The second issue: would our friends in Hollywood evaluate the success of a movie based on constants instead of variables (like in Europe where the sole benchmark are the tickets sold = how many people have seen the movie) then AVATAR, currently approaching only the 200 Mio mark, doesn’t even make the all-time Top 10 so far (with TITANIC being only No. 3 (!) with 355 Mio people watching it and GONE WITH THE WIND being No.1 with over 500 Million people watching). No. 10 on the list is the TRAPP FAMILY from 1956 with 255 Mio visitors, still ahead of AVATAR with only 200 Mio people sitting through the film (or at least watching a few minutes).

So the final standings don’t look too good for AVATAR: by no means is it the most successful film so far, nor is it the highest grossing film.

Well, never mind the bollocks. We acknowledge that AVATAR is a huge sucksess though and we are sure that Cameron doesn’t give a rat’s ass how we see it or if his calculation is actually more creative than it is realistic. Fair enough. Of course we also wouldn’t mind making billions of bucks, so our thoughts here just reflect our envy and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

But in light of Cameron being a billionaire already since TITANIC we would have thought that all the green could have been used for something more substantial than some blue-colored dudes riding Ferrari-red dragons to awe their squaws. We won’t give up our hopes that now, finally, Cameron is a fat happy cat and will put his money to better use, producing and directing more exciting, relevant and original movies. Like, say, his ex-wife.

Isn’t that ironic: after neglecting decades of feminist achievements, erasing gender equality from history and our memories alike and injecting sexist and racist subtexts into millions of moviegoers with AVATAR, his ex-wife gives him a run for his money (Oscars, pleeeeeeeeaaaase). Payback’s a bitch, isn’t it?!

J.

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20th CENTURY BOYS: CHAPTER 2 – THE LAST HOPE [20-seiki shônen: Dai 2 shô – Saigo no kibô | 20世紀少年 第二章 / 20世紀少年<第2章> 最後の希望]

2010/02/18

http://www.20thboys.com/index.html

Japan 2009   Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Yusuke Watanabe  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Nobuyuki Iinuma, Futoshi Ohira, Seiji Okuda  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Editing: Noboyuki Ito  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Cast: Takako Tokiwa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Airi Taira, Teruyuki Kagawa, Naohito Fujiki, Arata, Fumiyo Kohinata, Yusuke Santamaria, Hitomi Kuroki, Haruka Kinami, Mirai Moriyama, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Renji Ishibashi, Eiko Koike, Toshiaki Karasawa, Takashi Ukaji, Hidehiko Ishizuka, Arata Furuta, Naomasa Rokudaira, Jiro Sato, Rina Hatakeyama, Nana Katase, Ken Mitsuishi, Yoji Tanaka, Katsuo Nakamura, Osamu Shitara, Masahiko Nishimura, Katsuhisa Namase, Cynthia Cheston, Toru Tezuka, Ken Tanaka, Kenjiro Ishimaru, Fred McQueen, Shigenori Yamazaki, Masahiro Komoto, Hirofumi Araki, Sumie Sasaki, Jun Nishiyama, Yuki Himura, Kazuhiko Nishimura, Raita Ryu, Shinichi Hatori, Tamaki Matsumoto, Masao Komatsu, Ken Maeda, Naoko Ken, Hanawa, Kenichiro Tanabe, Yoshihiro Nozoe, Muneyoshi Abiko, Sakae Umezu, Kazuo Tokumitsu, Kaoru Fujiwara

Friend’s world domination and mankind’s struggle for survival are going into the next round. With a vengeance: a mysterious book with new prophecies that was obviously not written by Kenji emerges and more shit happens soon afterwards. The stakes are high: an anonymous hero is about to be assassinated, and an army of agents is about to release a deadly virus all across the planet. While Kanna is confronted with her family’s past and their involvement into recent events, an underground organization is fighting against Friend’s regime – an organization run by old acquaintances, as is turns out. But the most burning question is: is it Friend himself who will be murdered? And if so, who’s trying to take his life? Once more every second counts until the ultimate showdown begins.

There are many good reasons why 20TH CENTURY BOYS is one of the most successful manga adaptations and hence the trilogy shouldn’t be mistaken for just another average genre work. Helmed once more by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, a true visionary of modern Japanese cinema, 20TH CENTURY BOYS proves to be irresistible eye-candy, but above all a classy motion picture. THE LAST HOPE is as brilliant as its predecessor – another epic story with authentic characters, accompanied by a tense who-dunnit-plot and more than sufficient conspiracy theories that will make even the most demanding suspense fans happy.

The time leap into the year 2015 naturally helps to rearrange some things: the relevancy of characters, their relationship to each other, their motivations, the new world order. Above all it’s the link between part 1 and 3: after the overture does THE LAST HOPE define the world according to Friend and prepares everything for a finale that will blow Tokyo – and us – away. That doesn’t mean that THE LAST HOPE is less interesting than part 1: since the characters and background need no further introduction or explanation CHAPTER 2 can concentrate more on story development and gear towards the big bang. The showdown of part 2 is once more magnificent, but Tsutsumi keeps the best for part 3.

THE LAST HOPE is more than satisfying without compromising our expectations for part 3. 20TH CENTURY BOYS CHAPTER 2 is another faithful manga-movie, but without the copycat feeling of, say, Ron Howard’s childish Dan Brown adaptations. Love it or hate it, but most of all don’t be intimidated by its complexity or by the likes and dislikes of others. Enjoy THE LAST HOPE for what it is: a cinematographic roller coaster ride, a wild fantasy, a vision, a story of friendship, rivalry, power, love, and the circumstances of our existence.

Sometimes you simply have to enjoy sheer creativity unfolding in front of your eyes, especially in view of so many predictable, soulless films screening around us. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is an outstanding work of the human imagination. If there’s something distinctly humanistic about the film, then it is this simple fact.

J.




20TH CENTURY BOYS – CHAPTER 1: THE BEGINNING OF THE END [20-SEIKI SHONEN: HONKAKU KAGAKU BOKEN EIGA | 20世紀少年]

2010/02/18

http://www.20thboys.com/index.html

Japan 2008   Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi  Production: Morio Amagi, Ryuuji Ichiyama, Hideyuki Sakurai, Nobuyuki Iinuma  Manga: Naoki Urasawa  Script: Yasushi Fukuda, Takashi Nagasaki, Naoki Urasawa, Yusuke Watanabe  Cinematography: Satoru Karasawa  Music: Ryomei Shirai  Editing: Nobuyuki Ito  Cast: Toshiaki Karasawa, Etsushi Toyokawa, Takako Tokiwa, Teruyuki Kagawa, Kuranosuke Sasaki

A manga artist is thrown into jail for criticizing the regime. There he meets a mysterious prisoner who tells him a tale of true heroes and very dark powers: at the end of the previous century a group of young boys creates the somewhat ultimate villain, a dictator who terrorizes the world with biological weapons and downtown Tokyo with a giant combat robot.

The children compile these and other fictitious scenarios of destruction in a sketchbook and bury it somewhere close to their playground. Many years later however the prophecies come true, and a new mysterious sect and its leader named „Friend“ take control of large parts of Japan before turning into a political party that is aiming for world domination.

Surprisingly Friend’s party logo resembles the very same symbol the boys had invented years ago for their villain – a coincidence that brings the boys who are already thirtysomethings now back together decades later. They need to find out who’s behind the recent events – because it must be one of them, or at least someone they know. But that’s only the beginning and very soon they’ll find out how much involved into the events they really are.

20TH CENTURY BOYS, an adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s epic manga, is revealing the early years of the main characters and follows their journey into the 20th century. For a large part 20TH CENTURY BOYS is an intelligent coming-of-age drama with interesting, multidimensional characters. At the same time the film documents how society changes over the decades and furthermore until the arrival of the new century. Even if the film doesn’t provide detailed evidence for the profound changes it nevertheless succeeds to capture the feeling of a society that develops from a warm and caring organism into a place of technocracy, isolation and depression. Everybody seeks redemption. Nobody is innocent. Friend, this highly symbolic icon and self-proclaimed world president faces little resistance in a society that has no more dreams, values or goals left to fight for. So it’s up to our (anti-) heroes to save Japan as they seem to be the only ones who can see right through Friend and his motifs and know better than anyone else what he might be up to in the near future.

With 20TH CENTURY BOYS Yukihiko Tsutsumi proves once more that he’s the right man for odd stuff, and this time he has chosen a story of truly encyclopedic proportions to show his sense for the unconventional. The characters are quirky, the storyline is an unpredictable rollercoaster ride and the attention to often strange details is outstanding. Even though Tsutsumi sticks very close to the original manga he has managed to separate the relevant from the not-so-relevant despite the enormous variety of events and characters. Furthermore is 20TH CENTURY BOYS yet another proof for the Japanese obsession with the fictional destruction of their own country in all possible forms of popular culture, and Tsutsumi is a specially talented and playful master of destruction who finds just the right balance between shock and laughter.

20TH CENTURY BOYS is indeed a fantastic film with many reference points to reality. The outstanding cast as well as Tsutsumi’s regular film team manage the complex plot, the numerous twists and of course the great finale with ease, putting the film in a class of its own. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is uncompromising entertainment while elegantly placing a serious message about totalitarian regimes and the recent history of Japan itself within a mainstream audience.

Those who think they might just want to try out this first part of the 20TH CENTURY BOYS trilogy beware: this one and the second part do not have an actual ending, nor do they have a partial answer to the question who Friend is and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Once you start you’ll have to watch the next two parts as well. No problem though: 20TH CENTURY BOYS leaves us craving for more. Much more.

J.