When I reviewed Gangs of New York, I mentioned that there were a number of Academy Awards — notably Best Picture and some of the technical awards — where it lost out to Chicago. I wondered at the time if this was a case of highway robbery, or if Chicago really did deserve all the acclaim over the other film, and made a note to myself to check out the other film at some point. A few months later, I’ve had the chance to do so; while I don’t feel that Gangs of New York was out-and-out robbed — Chicago is a decent film and it’s easy to see why the Academy loved it — I do find myself disagreeing with the Academy, at least as far as which is the better picture.
Interestingly, there are some similarities between the two 2002 pictures, even though one wouldn’t expect much correlation between a film about gang warfare and a modern-day musical. But both are period pieces set in iconic American cities at pivotal points in their histories, and both meticulously established that period through the use of set design, costume design, and dialect. Also, coincidentally, both feature John C. Reilly in supporting roles. Continue reading →
I vaguely remember reading one or two of the John Carter of Mars stories (also called Barsoom) when I was in middle school. It’s been a long time, though, so I don’t recall many details; I do, however, maintain a deep respect for the franchise because of its massive impact on science fiction. Edgar Rice Burroughs (who also created Tarzan) wrote the first book 100 years ago, and its influence ranges from Conan to Star Wars to Avatar. So when seeing that somebody (Disney, to be precise) was finally tackling the task of adapting the stories to film, I was curious and wanted to see it. Enough so that I took the rare (for me) step of attending a midnight premiere, being one of the first people to see the new film. This wasn’t without some trepidation, as there are definite pitfalls to be avoided, and the preliminary marketing for John Carter has been rocky at best, starting with the name changes and continuing on with the early trailers. Continue reading →