BOOS! & WHOOP-DOOS!: The Dark Knight Rises and Other Ridiculous Titles
The Dark Knight Rises? Boo!
Jumping Jesus, it sure has been busy around here. News has been flying in so fast, it's hard to keep track of what's actually going on in the world of cinema. The on-line community has been celebrating Back to The Future's 25th Anniversary for weeks now, it seems, and it must be a little disconcerting that all of our focus and attention has been placed on something so...Old.
Don't get me wrong, I love Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Jennifer, and the penis kid on the time travel train at the end of Back To The Future Part III just as much as the next guy (what is it with Michael J. Fox and parting cock shots, anyway? Jesse Ventura, you need to get on this, stat*).
It doesn't bother me that people are obsessed with posting videos from the just-released Blu-ray. What bothers me is that twenty-five years from now, we'll have nothing to get excited about. There wasn't one single movie released this year that will ever garner the love and attention fans are showing for Back to The Future. Its sad that it's the only thing lovers of cinema have to get excited about at this exact moment in time.
Hollywood knows this. That's why, if you look at our own home page right now, it looks like a release slate torn out of a Premiere Magazine from thirty years ago. It feels as though we've actually gone back to 1985. We're stuck in a rut. And that rut is a nostalgic thrust at the hyper gloss byproduct of a bygone era. The Lost Boys, Batman, Tron, Top Gun, Fright Night, Superman, and Planet of the Apes have all appeared on the horizon in the past few days, flaunting their newly restructured wares as they head towards regurgitated cinematic glory.
Believe this, moviegoers both young and old want something new. Something fun. Something exciting they can truly believe in. That may very well be another decade away, as the actual studio executives in charge don't seem very smart about what they're currently doing. I've been in the boardrooms. I've been on the ground floor. And to listen to the communal chatter streaming from these sell-by-date committee sessions would make most of your ears bleed. They are rushing to cool without any concept of how to get there. They are three days and four years removed from what is actually hip and reverent. They are the Harvard graduated rich kids whose only grasp on what we actually want comes from reading their own headlines. Not the actual comments you guys make here or elsewhere on a daily basis. They only care about making money. They don't give two shits about making you, the consumer, happy.
The fans are smarter than those making the decisions at this point. It's not a façade or a mirage. When you look at something cockeyed, that just doesn't sound right, its because its not right. And today, I want to look at one specific problem in general that seems to be getting worse: The captions being carried out on our so-called future blockbusters are growing down right silly. Just absolutely ridiculous.
This week, two big tentpole flicks announced their full titles. And they are atrocious. Bad. Movies I wouldn't expect to see on a double bill Drive-In Marquee. When I Boo! The Dark Knight Rises, I am not hissing at the concept or idea of the film itself (though I have never been a big Batman fan). I am wafting my nose at that moniker, surely ripped from a Mad Magazine parody, and overly ripe for two straight years of mocking leading up to its release date. How many cock and yeast jokes will we have to surrender to? How many times will Christian Bale's libido or weight play into that jest-full teaser? It tastes like shit slick foreskin nibbled and ripped off a sixty-year old hobo who has been wallowing around in a dumpster behind an Indian food restaurant.
Then there is Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, which was just announced today. If I'm not mistaken, they actual did pull that from a dumpster. The one located directly behind George Lucas' desk at Skywalker Ranch. It was scribbled on a yellow sheet of lined paper, torn from a legal pad, written right underneath The Phantom Menace as George's second subtitle choice for Star Wars: Episode I. Ghost Protocol sounds like a Disney movie starring Don Knotts and Darren McGavin. The sad fact is, there are NO ghosts in Mission: Impossible 4. It's misleading. And it sounds retarded.
Why are we getting such strained superlatives tacked onto our upcoming sequels? Because those super smart studio boardroom committees want to give us something familiar, while also giving us something that sounds fresh and new. The translation ends up sounding absolutely foreign. Like they've gone directly to the way a Japanese 1-Sheet would translate a proper English title, leaving it incomprehensible, funny, dumb, and head shaking all at the same time. It's weird, really. Basically, the studios want to distance themselves and their latest franchise reboot from what has come before it, while also piggyback on its past successes.
They've ditched the numbering system altogether. Thing is, no one hates numbers. We love numbers. I'd much rather have a 4, or a VI, or a Four than I would Ghost Protocol. That title feels like a rubber chicken to me. I feel like it's mocking me. Taunting me. Teasing me. Hitting me in the face. Did Don Rickles fucking write that shit? I think so. Either that, or Tom Cruise has far too many secrets locked away in the Scientology footlocker of shame, and one of the head Church leaders, thinking this was a great title, forced him to thrust it into the public's collective eye to insure that Tom's latest Furry home-shot porn doesn't get leaked on the Internet. Cruise's statement on the matter doesn't even make sense to me:
"One of the things I always wanted for the franchise was for it not to have a number afterwards. I've never done sequels to films and I never thought of these films as sequels. Paramount has done a great job in coming up with a title, so it's not going to be MI2, 3, 4: it's going to be Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. I always felt it should have a title."
What a pretentious twat. I've never had an opinion about the man one-way or the other, but fuck him! Sorry, dude! These are sequels, whether you like it or not. What do you have against numbers, anyway? Did Sesame Street scare you as a kid? Is age against you? Numbered sequels are cool. They always have been. Just look at Back to The Future. Its sequels are simply called Part II and Part III. Not Ghost Almanac. Or Western Protocol. And here, twenty-five years later, they are still all the rage.
I am guessing that 98% of the fans waiting to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon wouldn't mind if it were just simply called Transformers 3. In fact, I am sure they would prefer that. Here is another example of a title that hurts. It actually kicks the mind, because you want to call it Dark Side of the Moon. The title as it stands seems incomplete. It feels like you've blinked or blacked out for a second looking at it. Even without "SIDE", its still too closely associated with Pink Floyd. I'll give Michael Bay the benefit of the doubt on this one. But only if Pink Floyd's seminal album synchs up perfectly with the robot mayhem. If it doesn't? Well, then fuck him, too, and give us back our 3.
The trend of titling sequels with improbable and ludicrous captions seems to have started with Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. When that hit, everyone, including my mom, let out a loud, quizzical groan, as if getting caught jacking off in the middle of taking a long, painful shit. To this day, it still doesn't make much sense. Or sound compltly right. We accept it because we've heard it so many times, and we've seen it so many times. But when we first laid eyes on those two words side-by-side: Phantom. Menace. We were dumb struck. And today's new stupid titles aren't arriving with a softer blow. Despite our having to live with that ode to goofy sci-fi flicks from the 50s, we're still taken back when another subtitle lands with a loud thud.
Maybe studio executives are in a race to see who can top Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo as the worst sequel title of all time? Since its release in 1984, it has been the go to joke whenever a part 2 comes to fruition, or when ever anybody does something stupid, and then they turn around and do it again. At least the title Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo has both a number and something that actually pertained to the film's plot.
Sure, over the years, maybe even since the beginning of cinema, there have been some quite puzzling and painful sequel captions. But nothing as obvious as this latest outpouring has been in its attempts to be both lazy and frustrating. Maybe there is hope. Tron got it right with Tron: Legacy, though I'd like to see a two in there. Paranormal Activity 2 played it straight without a goofy caption. Hopefully The Hangover 2 and Scream 4 will stay put. But you never know. I have heard murmurings of The Hangover: Thailand Sunrise.
Whatever the case may be, The Dark Knight Rises, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be three of the biggest blockbusters of all time that also have the dubious distinction of having the worst titles of all time. Tom Cruise and Hollywood both needs to get over their fear and hate of numbers.
It's not that big of a deal.
Kill Grandma! Eat food! Whoop-doo!
And seriously, Jesse? What is up with this: