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Elvis Told The Wrong Story – And Hurt The Movie

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Elvis Told The Wrong Story – And Hurt The Movie

As good as Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic is, it should have focused on The King’s final years in Vegas in order to avoid a bad musical biopic cliché.

Elvis is still charming audiences and critics around the world, but it told the wrong story and ultimately hurt the movie. Luhrmann’s film conforms rather rigidly to the montage-heavy formula laid down by so many musical biopics, despite its electric central performance from Austin Butler. Too many musical biopics all adopt the same routine structure, and though often successful and a shoo-in for award nominations, their life-spanning narratives usually do their subject a disservice. This overused and almost inflexible rise-and-fall-and-rise-again trajectory attempts to cram in every apparently indispensable detail: career beginnings, initial controversies, the eventual success, the fame, the wild days, the bad management, the recovery, and then one final hurrah. In the end, rarely anything more meaningful is learned beyond what could be gleaned from Wikipedia, regardless of the flashy direction and stunning portrayals.

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The kind of generic storytelling in musical biopics that it has already been parodied. In 2007, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the genius genre send-up about the tumultuous life of a fictional country singer, should have ended the generic biopic in its tracks. Its satire destroyed every tired element of the genre so resolutely and hilariously. The problem, however, is that Walk Hard bombed hard at the box office. Though it eventually became a cult favorite, it failed to make enough of a commercial impact to force future musical biopics to even attempt a different approach. In a post-Walk Hard world, it’s hard to take many of these formulaic biopics seriously.


Related: Elvis Proves Baz Luhrmann’s Next Film Will Be Even Better

This is precisely why Luhrmann’s film should have narrowed the scope of Elvis’ life to focus solely on a significant part of it. The most thematically ripe and dramatically ironic aspect of Elvis Presley’s life as presented in Luhrmann’s movie is his 1970s Vegas period. During that time, his career was hamstrung by a bad management deal that led to his illness and substance abuse, yet he was also designated the King of Rock n’ Roll and gave everything during every performance. This perfect dichotomy would have allowed the film to simultaneously depict Elvis at his worst and best while skipping the unnecessary run-down of his life prior to this period. Sadly, musical biopics rarely divert from the formulaic storytelling Luhrmann ultimately stuck with. Daring biopics shake up the formula or completely disregard it, such as I’m Not There (where multiple actors play Bob Dylan), The Last Days (a fictionalized account of Kurt Cobain’s final days), and Love & Mercy (where Paul Dano and John Cusack play Brian Wilson). If Luhrmann had also eschewed the musical biopic formula and kept the focus on a shorter but altogether more crucial aspect of Elvis’ life, Elvis could have offered more about its subject by focusing more intently on less.


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As it is, Elvis is a good but still mostly generic biopic that operates like a checklist of story beats and it deserved more. Focusing on Elvis’ Vegas period would have allowed for a more organic and less mechanical exploration of his marriage breakdown and failing health, in addition to covering his relationship with Tom Hanks’ Colonel Tom Parker during its most strained period. Elvis’ legendary Vegas performances would have been reframed as being all the more poignant, too. A single flashback or a short prologue from his glorious 1950s period is all that would have been needed to set up his tragic downfall.


As Elvis continues to be a commercial success, it is safe to say that the formulaic musical biopic is not going away anytime soon. Luhrmann’s film is certainly a crowd-pleaser, but it missed a clear opportunity to tell a more interesting and emotionally resonant story. A version focused on Elvis’ Vegas period may have sacrificed mainstream appeal and perhaps would have needed a more low-key director than Luhrmann to pull it off, but it would have certainly captured a fascinating chapter in Elvis’ life. Here’s hoping the announced Michael Jackson biopic will learn a lesson or two from Walk Hard before cameras start rolling.


Next: Elvis Ending Explained (In Detail)

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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