I have been eyeing three films for my next review. Well four technically, and while I have several on the docket these three are part of a trilogy. The fourth, well it's not, but it comes from the same director and is a fantastic film in it's own right.
Trilogies are tough. I mean, its a hard business to take part in. It seems that nowadays trilogies are being planned way out in advance. This seems to have changed a bit since things were done in the early 80's and 90's. If a film was popular, studios would try and find a way to create a story for a second installment, with varying levels of success. Films like "Weekend at Bernie's" certainly did not need a sequel, but there was money to made. The sequel to "Mannequin" was so bad they stopped moving forward on a third one. Or you'd have the odd case of an unexpected hit like "Back to the Future" where it took off in popularity after the original, that they negotiated a way to shoot the sequel and third installment at the same time. Nobody cared about "The Hangover 3", yet "Iron Man 3" saved the franchise after an abysmal second putting. Like I said, trilogies are tough.
So now, movie studios want to ensure a films success down the line before they start the first one. "Harry Potter" was a sure fire hit after book sales exploded, and with 7 books to make movies from they cashed in! The Hunger games could have been a gamble and after a shaky start (that was overlooked mainly because of the books popularity) the sequel righted the ship, and we have two more films to look forward to. "Divergent" and the upcoming movie "The Maze Runner" are trying to cash in on similar success and have had luke-warm reactions.
My personal favorite, is the "it's been a long time since the second film in a series, here is a third one wayyyy tooooo laaaaate" scenario. Do we really need a THIRD "Night at the Museum" movie FIVE years after the forced sequel?
The answer to that by the way, was no. We don't. The answer is no.
So this trilogy I was speaking of, isn't a trilogy in the traditional sense. Same actors. Same director. Same brand of Ice Cream. Different movies.
I of course am referring to what is referred to as "The Cornetto" Trilogy. Films that are totally different, yet very similar in style. Each is a take on a very specific genre of film. Not a mock mind you, but a very loved acknowledgement. For my next review, I'll start where all stories start. At the "Beginning".
Shaun of the Dead
Director: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
Staring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Bill Nighy
Released: September 24th, 2004
Genre bending isn't a term that's used lightly in Hollywood. If it bends a genre it means one of two things. It's going to be hard to market/advertise a movie if they can't clearly describe it in one word. Action, drama, romance, horror, musical, period-peice, comedy, etc. Or two, if it's not clearly defined as a specific genre the odds of it being a successful film are low (John Carter, Cowboys and Aliens being two quick examples. There are others). Obviously there have been bent genre's like romantic comedy, that have become a genre of it's own. You might even argue movies like "The Avengers" is kind of an Action-comedy. Shaun of the Dead tries to infuse its comedy with an unlikely pairing: Zombies.
See what I mean? This style is used frequently and keeps the film moving at such a brisk pace, that it feels like it's over before it even started. The intent in this example, is to make the mundane tasks we do daily, like brushing our teeth, getting dressed, making breakfast, look and sound more interesting. The style is very action oriented even though the actions aren't that dramatic. He makes them seem more intense than they really are. And as filmmakers, aren't we supposed to try and entertain in every frame we shoot?
He also uses a technique called object wipes. Object wipes combine two shots in what feels like one, by dollying the camera from a subject until the shot is obstructed by a physical object, then making a cut in post production at a frame in the second shot that is similarly obstructed. As long as the dolly is in the same direction, and the object you are using as an obstruction are the same, (or similar) then you will be fine. I will try to cover this in TV2 classes this year.
There are also a lot of recurring images and set pieces in the film. Shaun's walk to the store pre zombie break out and post zombie break out are shot exactly the same, except for the obvious difference being the zombies. The second one makes for one heck of a long take too!
It's Mr. Leonard. Teacher, Videomaker, Professional Goofball