“The Shawshank Redemption” is an absolute masterpiece of a film with its acting, story-line, and direction. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman were superb in this not-so-typical prison tale. “Shawshank” has characters that are representative of those found in most prison films; however, they are much deeper than your run-of-the-mill inmates.
Through Red’s brilliant narration, we get to know Andy Dufresne, who may truly be the only innocent man in the Shawshank prison. We’re also given a perspective of prison life that is new: the prisoners are all content with where they are. They know they’ve done their crimes, and inside the walls of Shawshank they are, in a way, innocent; they’re harmless inside them.
What makes Shawshank substantially different than other prison films is how the prisoners are portrayed. The prisoners appear innocent while those running appear to be the truly evil ones: in particular, Captain Hadley and the Warden. There is something we are offered here that isn’t anywhere else: after a certain amount of time, a lot of inmates are actually sorry for what they've done. Under the system, prisoners can become so dependent on prison existence, that they become “institutionalized.”
There are the incorrigible few who remain bitter after serving their time and being paroled, but by the time most are let out, they’re no harm to society. Such men are let go when the inmate’s best years have passed, essentially at an age where the ex-con can no longer be a threat to anybody. They can’t even go to the bathroom without asking permission; they have been dependent on the system for so long that they can’t deal with reality as adult human beings anymore.
Red’s case didn’t seem much different than most. But after knowing Andy and being touched by the “hope” that he had and watching him escape, he became a new man. After thirty years and three parole hearings reading the same old message, Red spoke from the heart. He realized that the stupid kid that had done the crime was long gone, never to return. The parole officers, as rude as they may have felt he was being, apparently realized that, as well. In return for his honest statement, his parole was at last approved.
Everyone, according to this film, is redeemable. You may have heard before that water allows people to forget many things, and that it has so many magical properties. Maybe that’s what Andy means when he says that the Pacific Ocean having no memory. Water has always stood as a symbol for being clean and purified. Supposedly, water can even rid you of all your unhappy thoughts. You can essentially, metaphorically, wash away your former self and become a new person.
The main emphasis of this film is that, for the most part, the American prison system works. However, the film also brings about the idea of corruption in the system. It is a sort of commentary on the corruption that happens in any “social service” that the government supplies. If you pester the government enough, though, they will most certainly do something about serious cases of corruption, as they did with Warden Norton and Captain Hadley.
“Shawshank” also brings up another interesting idea: that many prisoners actually can become content with their lives in prison. Maybe it’s for simply psychological reasons: their way of coping with prison life. Or perhaps, it is that those people understand that they belong there, that they’ve done the crime, and they’re doing the time. How many of them are actually sorry, though? It’s funny how they still claim, for the most part, to be innocent. In their time of being incarcerated, have they actually become new people? Or, do they just think they’ve become new people?
“The Shawshank Redemption” is a fascinating film to watch, and one that is certainly worth seeing multiple times. It’s one of those films that make you think about something different each time you watch it. “The Shawshank Redemption” is easily an all-time favorite film.
"A Happy Medium" is a series of short essays which looks at a trending topic. Each article looks at it from extreme liberal and conservative positions, then reconciles those into a happy medium of rationality.
A Happy Medium with Netflix's Binge-Watching Streaming Empire
So, what does it mean when Netflix becomes worth north of 100 billion dollars, as it has?
On the Left: "Too many people are binge-watching mind-numbing dramas and tasteless comedies! We need to give more market share to true indie producers with truly original ideas!"
On the Right: "Netflix has dominated the streaming market and are reaping the benefits. Now they can produce more original content than most movie studios put together!"
When you consider that Disney has a stock market cap of $160+ billion, this is obviously an incredible milestone for Netflix.
But is binge-watching becoming a real societal problem just as bad as being a "couch potato?"
And, is Netflix becoming so big that it will eventually truly rival Disney and start eating up studios at a record pace as Disney has?
These are a couple of interesting questions that are rattling around in my head. So, let's see if we can reach...
A Happy Medium:
"Netflix and chill" is a perfectly fine recreational activity... in moderation, of course. It's OK to binge-watch your favorite show on a day off. Netflix does create some solid original content. They also have a lot of some indie produced work. So, you could say Netflix is really good for independent films in that way.
But Netflix really pushes their original content extremely hard. Obviously, that makes sense, as this exclusive content is what keeps the subscriber base growing. And their DVD rental business is still there, which isn't nothing. But Netflix capital comes purely from subscribers and investment capital, and that's all funding the.streaming business.
Still, Amazon Prime is becoming a serious competitor with their own original content. Disney is about to go head to head with Netflix, too. Comcast and Viacom are in the game, too. Hulu still exists, as well. So we'll see how much longer Netflix remains the king of the hill in streaming.
However, Netflix and chill will probably be a weekend activity for a long time to come, no matter what the company's market share may be. The growing competition could even be a good thing. And yes, there's the concern that indie producers will be left in the dust with Netflix original content becoming such a priority. We shall see.
Now, my fair readers, here are a couple of questions for you to ponder:
What's your take on Netflix growing so quickly?
Do you think it's a good thing and will the growth continue?
Thanks to my mom, I finally got to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray disc. Overall, I liked the movie and found it an enjoyable cinematic experience. I'll be honest that I do understand some of the criticisms against the film. But any critical concerns didn't ruin Episode 7 for me.
The one major thing that I have to agree with the critics is how much this film mirrors a new hope. Without giving too much away, there are definitely some familiar settings. At many points the plot is even a bit too predictable. But as a “passing of the torch” sort of film, the familiar plot elements didn't diminish the experience for me.
What made the film work was the new characters. They were all enjoyable and unlike the prequels, they were well acted and well written. The action was pretty intense and the film was well directed. I've always liked J.J. Abrams as a director personally. Yes, his legendary love of camera lens flare effects is on display in this film, but not quite to the extent that it was in his two Star Trek films. The film still looked like a Star Wars movie.
Speaking of which, there wasn't CGI overload in this film as there was in the prequels. There were plenty of effects, of course. But they weren't just there to be eye candy. This film focused on real people. Even the CGI characters were real characters. They got that part right.
The nostalgia is well balanced in the film, far as I'm concerned. But yes, sort of knowing what's going to happen was a bit distracting. They definitely played it very safe with the plot. That's why it is a sound film. It did what the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope, did right. The cliffhanger ending I felt was perfect. I really don't think that Episode 8 will be a clone of empire strikes back. Lucasfilm really just didn't want to screw this up with a new generation of fans. They wanted to start off on the right foot. Far as I am concerned, they did.
I can't really say much more without giving things away. I may do a spoiler laden review at another time. But I will say this. It's really cool that they have a female protagonist for these new films. Yeah, Rey will probably become a Disney princess. But I'm ok with that.
I give The Force Awakens a solid B. Not a perfect film, but it has its own charm that I simply love too much. I'll be watching it again and again, that's for sure.
by Joshua Packard, Fullness of Happy
I have just finished watching the final episode of the "Star Trek" spinoff, "Enterprise". With the exception of possibly a few "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episodes, I can now say that I have watched every Star Trek episode and movie made to this date. With the advent of entire seasons of television shows on DVD and streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu, there is an expansion of the phenomenon known as "binge watching". I have been binge watching all the episodes of "Star Trek" and its spinoffs for a while now. I jokingly call "The Next Generation", "Deep Space Nine", and "Voyager the "synoptic Star Treks" because they all take place in relatively the same timespan in the future, and they are very similar looking and feeling. With "Enterprise", the show has a very different feel from all the previous incarnations of the sci fi franchise. The series takes place about 100 years before the events of the original classic series of "Star Trek". "Enterprise" goes into a lot of the origins of various events, institutions, technologies and other things that appear in the earlier series.
In this Star Trek, transporters are a new technology, the Federation does not yet exist, and the starship Enterprise is the first Earth Starfleet warp 5 ship. Enterprise is the first human vessel to explore deep space. It is captained by Jonathan Archer, the son of a scientist who pushed for the creation of faster warp vessels and the exploration of space by humans. A lot of the episodes elaborate on the relationships of humanity to other species such as the Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons, and others in the galaxy. There is a lot of emphasis on how different cultures interact, and whether it is a good idea to form alliances with other planets and share technology and interact. A lot of people blame the Vulcans from holding humans back from developing new technologies, claiming they believe we are not ready for such technologies. The origins of the future doctrine known as the Prime Directive has its seeds explained in the course of many"Enterprise" episodes. In later episodes the wisdom of interaction between species is explored more in depth, I think possibly as a metaphor for the existence of racism today, which in "Enterprise" has been eliminated on Earth.
In Enterprise, there is more continuity throughout the series than in earlier Star Trek spinoffs. Especially in the second and third seasons, there is a long arching plot-line throughout, as Enterprise and her crew seek to prevent the destruction of Earth by an alien coalition which is being manipulated by time traveling transdimensional species, who see human beings and the future creation of the Federation as a a threat to their existence. Many of the episodes focus on Captain Archer and the crews attempts to seek out the species determined to destroy them and stop the elimination of humanity. It is a race to find the alien species and stop their weapon, which will be capable of destroying earth and eradicating human beings from existence. Many of the episodes are based on time travel, and I found them interesting.
In most of "Star Trek", the most interesting aspects of the stories are the characters. Each Star Trek series had their own unique characters. Enterprise has some interesting and likeable characters as well, who excel in their fields of vocation and in their possession and practice of heroic virtue. There are also some villains and other characters who are interesting as well. One of my favorite characters was actually the Andorian, Commander Shran, played by Star Trek regular Jeffrey Combs, who can be somewhat of a bastard, but possesses a sense of morality and honor which leads him to practice heroic acts in helping the Enterprise crew and humanity. At first it took me a while to get used to the new characters, but eventually the viewer gets to know and like them very well. The two alien characters on the ship, Vulcan first officer T'Pol, and Denobulan doctor Phlox, are very interesting and likeable. One thing I disagree with is that Vulcans suppress their emotions. To me, Vulcans are almost always pissed off and annoyed at everyone. That is my own observation, and I think it amusing to notice how pissed off the Vulcan characters constantly seem to be. Maybe I am wrong. Decide for yourself.
Overall, I think I liked this spin off of Star Trek more than the others. I recommend checking it out if you have the time, and I hope you enjoy it as well.
Read more of Joshua's work on his blog, Fullness of Happy.
Stories in Focus: "Star Trek"
by Joshua Packard, Fullness of Happy
I plan on writing some short column pieces under the title "Stories in Focus". One of my great passions is studying and thinking about great stories. I even occasionally like poor stories. But stories are very important to cultures and to individuals. Being able to tell, or appreciate and learn from our own stories and the stories of others, is something very valuable. There is something about a good story that can inspire, educate, revive, and uplift a person.
For a long time, stories were oral traditions, and storytellers would have to memorize long elaborate tales for passing from generation to generation. When written language was developed, people had more reliable ways of recording and handing down stories. But for a long time, most people were illiterate. With better methods of printing and making print stories available, more and more people learning to read and write, and were able to study and write and disseminate stories on their own.
Eventually, stories were presentable in different formats with the advent of radio, audio recording, videos, and movies for example. Today we have multiple formats for listening to, reading, viewing, or even participating in stories. There is now a great focus in the field of video games that is based on playing a game while developing a great story. I personally most value games that have a good story, and would one day like to be able to produce and design a game that not only is fun and challenging, but also presents a great story and great characters.
But I would like to talk about certain stories, and "story franchises" in these blog posts entitled "Stories in Focus". Lately, I have been focusing on watching the series that belong to the "Star Trek" franchise, which already has 5 television series, 12 movies, countless books and has more movies and a new television series due in the future. For me, "Star Trek" was my first introduction to storytelling. The stories were interesting and exciting and the characters were believable and inspiring. I first was a viewer of the spinoff "The Next Generation", and actually wrote book reports on books involving the characters of the shows. Recently, I have watched the entire series of spinoffs "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager" over the last several months. You can watch practically everything "Star Trek" related on Netflix. I started watching these shows again in thinking about my Uncle Nathaniel, who was very much into "Star Trek" and similar Science Fiction storytelling. I finally have finished watching "Voyager" and have begun to watch the fifth series "Enterprise" which is a prequel to all the other series, including the original.
"Star Trek" is supposed to inspire hope for people, I think, because it portrays a future where humanity has overcome many terrible things, such as war, poverty, racism, etc. and has used science and technology to explore the galaxy and build relationships with alien species and improve the conditions of life for all people. The show is a bit too socialistic I believe, where everything is focused on the state. The Federation is a very statist organization in my opinion. I think the economics of "Star Trek" is very much fantasy. It would be nice to have technology like replicators to produce as much food as we need. But the economic philosophy of "Star Trek" is not something I think I would support. I don't believe there will ever be a time where money is no longer needed or used. Money is a good tool for organizing the distribution of labor and determining the price of goods. There will never be a lack of scarcity of certain resources. I do think technology and free markets will enable a greater extension of wealth, health, and well being to all people, including the most poor. The rich will get richer, and the poor will get richer too. But the economics of "Star Trek" is a fantasy, and one that is too socialistic or Communistic in my belief.
Another thing that bothered me about Star Trek, Voyager in particular, was the repetitive portrayal of machines and computer programs as being individuals with rights and minds of their own. It is a story but, still, there is no way to create a technology that can do anything resembling thought. Machines cannot, will not, and never will be able to think. Nothing we can do, will ever be able to give cognition or thinking abilities to mechanical devices. Data and the Doctor (or EMH), are not possible. Computers and machine technology can overtime be made to do many things, and possibly even approximate human action to a great degree, but never will they be able to think, or make judgments, or take free actions of their own. No machine will ever be a conscious being. I believe that only God is capable of creating a mind.
The creators and contributors to the various "Star Trek" series and movies have done a great job of creating compelling alien species and especially the villains. The Borg, and the Dominion are two of the most hate-able villains in all of storytelling. When I was watching the episodes of Deep Space Nine developing the characters of the Dominion and the Founders and Jem Hadar, I really did not like them. I thought the Borg were the most fearsome and detestable villains, but the Dominion came close to being worse than them.
I am looking forward to watching the rest of "Enterprise", which has a much different feel than all the previous television series. I will perhaps write another "Stories in Focus" entry when I have finished watching those episodes.
Read more of Joshua's work on his blog, Fullness of Happy.
While "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is a cult classic, the comedy group's second feature film, "Life of Brian" has some pretty good laughs in it, as well. Unfortunately, for me, a lot of the jokes fall short of funny for me.
The best parts of the film for me are the absurdity of the People's Front of Judea and the ridiculous depiction of the Romans. It's just not Monty Python's best work, and I've seen plenty of Flying Circus. The jokes weren't as spot-on as they well in "Holy Grail" and the humor in "Life of Brian" is a lot drier than their typical work, even for a fan of dry humor as myself.
I've only ever seen this film twice. Honestly, it's not nearly as entertaining as their other work. Truthfully, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of "Meaning of Life" and I understand that one is extremely weird. But Graham Chapman's Brian Cohen, John Cleese's many characters, and the rest of the Monty Python cast are top-notch with their acting, even if the script isn't as strong as many of their others.
I really do think Monty Python's abilities were just extremely stretched with a feature-film length script. It worked greatly on Holy Grail, but this one proved to not be as strong, though it had plenty of laughs and many chuckles throughout.
The strongest part of the film for me has to be the ending, the famous "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life" initiated by Eric Idle during the crucifixion scene at the end. While I do take issue with some of the lyrics, as my analytic mind loves to tangle with such things, it's a musical number up there with the Monty Python classics like the Lumberjack Song and every song from Holy Grail. It's an upbeat positive song that reminds people to always look on the Bright Side and frankly admits that Life is a turd when you really look at it, and "Life's a laugh and Death's a joke, it's true."
I think my biggest issue with the song is when he says you start with nothing and end with nothing, so what have you lost... nothing! As someone who believe each of us is born with huge amounts of potential, I take a little exception to that. But death is inevitable, and you can't live in fear of it, just accept it as an inescapable eventuality... that I can agree with. But all that nitpicking analysis aside, it's a great song and right up there with "Knight of the Round Table" from Holy Grail for me.
I'd only give this film a 7/10, which is awfully low for Monty Python, I understand, but I honestly feel like it's weak material for them. It pales so greatly in comparison to Holy Grail, and the only thing that saves it for me is the fact that it had a pretty good premise (don't just blindly follow people and make decisions for yourself) and it had the great ending, plus all of the tongue-in-cheek humor that we love Monty Python. But it's nowhere as quotable or laugh-out-loud hilarious as much of their other work.
I'm probably being brutal with it, but if I rated it any higher, it would be a film I'd want to view more often. Still, I love Monty Python, and for fans of the group, if you haven't seen it, it's well worth seeing for its high points.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
“Silverado” could have and should have been a better film that it turned out to be. Yet it is credited for reviving the western as a profitable film genre. To be fair, before I watched this movie, I had never been a fan of westerns, but I did not find this movie to be all that bad. It was somewhat of a time-waster, but considering the kind of “fun” movie that it supposedly is, that would’ve been the point of the movie anyway.
“Silverado” is an escape to a lawless Wild West. For me, though, it lacked any true sense of adventure, any real danger, or any desire to ever visit Silverado. Mostly, I found it to be a waste of a lot of big name actors – although, to be fair, some of them were not the big names that they would later become.
It was a valiant attempt to bring back the western, and I’m pretty sure that this movie did so. I found most of the acting to be adequate. While some people found Kevin Costner “annoying,” I believe that he was well into the spirit of the character. This was also Costner’s first leading role, in a long line of many. I must agree with those who say that he is a bright spot in the movie, because he is. Jake was supposed to be a wild character, a kid who has two guns, shooting everything in sight simply because he can.
There are no consequences. Welcome to the Wild West.
“Silverado’s” entertainment value was decent. There were times that I felt good whenever the heroes did something good, but it certainly was not what I’d consider as a good movie. I think that the shootouts were no doubt the best part of the film. Most everything else was fairly cheesy.
I found Slick to be a very annoying and pretty much pointless character, other than being an archetype of a classic Western character, the “self-made man who tripped over a gold mine.” I didn’t find very much of the film to be overly funny, though Jake swinging from the rafters I found to be somewhat amusing.
I wouldn’t kick lots of dirt on this film as many others have, but I certainly am not a big fan of this film. It was a “fun” brainless sort of movie, in my opinion. If that’s what it really was meant to be, then the producers did their job and made their money. It allowed westerns to regain some of their former popularity, too, so it was good for that.
I do think that some great talent was wasted here, however. This film could’ve been much better, and I’ll bet a lot of good stuff was left out during the editing process. There is no wonderful art in this edit.
I will not go as far as to call this film “awful.” It certainly has many parts that drag it down, the most obvious of which was the ending. Cobb’s death seemed far too simple. The plot has so many random elements and people almost literally come out of nowhere. Then, they build up this climax to end the story with a very predictable ending: Paden kills Sheriff Cobb and becomes the new sheriff of Silverado. This could’ve been a far better movie than what became the final product. As it turns out, much of this film was left on the cutting room floor, especially the scenes with Hannah.
Perhaps Hannah was the greatest victim of what amounts to some poor choices in editing. In the final film, she seemed to be just an extra character, not all that relevant to the story. Yet, she has one of the more interesting lines. It just happens to be in a scene that seems ridiculously out of place with the rest of the story. It is as if they put the plot of Silverado on hold and decided to insert a “love interest” scene, then get back to the plot and forget that it even happened.
In that scene, Hannah is with Paden. Hannah comments on how men find her so beautiful, and how she doesn’t really care about that. She tells Paden that she came out West to build something that would last on this land, and hoped to have a prospering farm one day. She knew her physical beauty wouldn’t last forever and that it was ridiculous to dwell on it. So, she much preferred building something that would last beyond her own years, something that she could be proud of. This is an interesting idea, but it is just simply forgotten in the rest of the film. Perhaps, some explanations lie on the cutting room floor for why this movie wasn’t better than it was.
A Classic Film from an Iconic Director
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a Steven Spielberg classic, both written and directed by him. The protagonist of the film is Roy Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss, who seems to have a fairly typical family, with a fairly typical life and a fairly typical job working for the electric company.
Around the world, strange things have been appearing at random in the deserts. First, war planes from World War Two appear in Mexico. When they turn the ignition, they still work. Later on, a passenger ship is found in the Gobi Desert.
Back in Indiana, Roy Neary goes out on a late-night call from work when he happens to have a close encounter with an alien ship featuring very bright lights, intense enough to leave Roy with sunburn. His encounter leaves him with far more questions than answers, and meanwhile, everyone around him thinks that he is going insane.
Roy Neary has seen something very strange, indeed. However, he is not the most articulate person around. He sees this shape of a mountain, though he does not recognize it as such at first, in practically everything after his encounter: in shaving cream, in mashed potatoes, and in mounds of mud.
Roy is not alone in seeing this shape. Others who have also encountered the UFO’s seem to see this shape in their minds also. But others have a better way of expressing the shape, and it would seem the others clearly know that the shape is a mountain. The question is which mountain?
Meanwhile, the government has discovered the correct mountain through deciphering an alien message, which at first just seemed like a pattern of numbers until they figured out that they were actually latitude and longitude coordinates. The government does their best to drive people away from the mountain, deploying any measures to stop them, including nerve gas. At the same time, Roy drives off his family with his apparent insanity. People just aren’t stopping to listen, notably Ronnie, to what he has to say.
After Ronnie takes herself and the kids to her sister’s house, Roy continues on building his mountain model, and he finally figures out what the mountain shape was about. Apparently, the alien scout ships gave those who saw the ships a psychic message of the location of their landing site. Of course, the government doesn’t want to let that happen.
When Roy discovers the identity of the mountain on the TV news, he sets off in a rental to Wyoming to get some answers. Along the way, he meets up with Jillian, whom he met earlier on just after his first encounter. It turns out that her little boy, Barry, has been taken by the aliens. They are met by many of the same people at the sightings, many of whom had not gotten this far. With all the defenses the government has set in place, only Roy and Jillian are able to make it to the top of the mountain, where they witness the most amazing thing, the arrival of the alien mother ship.
We then discover the source of these random appearances of objects around the world. It turns out that the missing Navy officers and Air Force pilots, as well as a good number of other missing folks, had been abducted by these aliens some years before. They returned to bring them back to Earth, seemingly unharmed, and they haven’t aged, as well. Of course, little Barry is returned as well, quite unharmed and quite happy that they “played” with him. It is a happy ending. Roy decides, along with a few others, that they will join the aliens back to their world. Jillian is reunited with Barry, and Roy goes off into space to get some answers to his million questions.
What Makes "Close Encounters" a Classic?
What makes this film a classic? Indeed, it leaves us with many questions. It has a happy ending and all of that jazz, but what happens to Roy? A film like this does not really have to provide all of the answers. That is the beauty of this film. You can watch it and wonder why everything happens. We are left with a great many questions. Why did Roy leave Earth? What did he have to go back to? He had no home now. His wife was through with him and he had no job. The aliens had the answers to his questions.
This is a film about wonder. As we grow older, we often lose the wonder for the world that we had as a child. The whole mountain shape drives Roy insane; he can’t explain what it is. Why can’t he articulate such a seemingly simple idea? Roy is an everyday guy, who to some may seem a little dumb, but if you were to see something like a UFO encounter, you probably would not be able to explain it any better than Roy did. What sort of description can you use for such a magnificent sight; especially if it was bright enough to give you sunburn? (I never quite understood that part of it.) He’s just your run-of-the-mill vocational worker with an ordinary family, albeit one with a wife who pretty much thought he was nuts before all this “space alien” junk started.
Though Roy doesn’t understand everything that’s going on, he does somehow know that the government has been hiding something very important from them. He brings up a good point. Why can’t people have their questions answered? Just because they are everyday people, they can’t take part in something wonderful? That’s what the government says: keep everything top secret and away from all the other simple ordinary Jacks and Jills. But, people need a sense of adventure in their lives. It’s a trip away from the mundane, and some people will risk their very lives to get a piece of the action.
Roy goes crazy because he wants his questions answered and no one will listen to him. He doesn’t have a wife that’s overly supportive of him, though his kids are fairly excited. In fact, no one is really supportive of him, other than those at the sightings. Mr. Neary is not the brightest bulb on the face of the earth, but he knows that something is very wrong. It is a perfectly healthy thing to wonder about things that cannot be easily explained, but society has limits on how far you can go with it.
Unfortunately, as Spielberg illustrates, society believes such wonder should be left to children, and adults should be the serious ones. So who does the government think they are? Were they simply trying to protect everyone? Did they somehow already really know that their missing military personnel really had been abducted by aliens? It was an incredibly good guess to be so ready to welcome all of them home! People often don’t just know what to think of what they don’t understand. It would seem that the older one gets, the more difficult it is for them to deal with the unknown, whereas a child can simply use his or her imagination to explain it all. Imagination is such an important human characteristic, and Spielberg definitely tried to tell us that through this film.
How Would Audiences Today View "Close Encounters?"
There are critics of this film who argue over the relaxed pace of the film, and some who will even call it “boring.” It is not your typical film, and not your typical story. The movie runs much more like a book than a typical Hollywood film. This is understandable because it is actually based on a novel that Spielberg himself wrote. Therefore, his script stayed a lot more faithful to his book than the adaptations that are usually made from books to film.
There are a number of deleted scenes from the film that were prominent in the book. For example, there is a scene about Roy’s job with the electric company and the reason that he gets fired becomes a bit clearer; because of his encounter with the alien, he doesn’t get to the job he was supposed to do, and loses his job over it. There is also a scene at the airport where the passengers aboard the first plane to have the close encounter are asked to hand over their cameras and other recording devices by the government. They are promised that everything would be returned to them and any pictures developed, albeit with the ones the government doesn’t want turning up to be blanked out, which explains why no one has seen “photographic evidence” of the UFO’s. Everything has only been first-hand accounts without solid proof, because the government has been very careful to make sure that these things stay secret. Apparently, they underestimated the aliens, who used psychic messages to contact those who were at the encounters.
These scenes were probably edited out because of the already pretty substantial, over two hours and fifteen minutes, length of the film; however, I certainly think the movie isn’t complete without them. The film paces like a book, and a lot of moviegoers today wouldn’t be able to understand it.
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a film that, if it were released today, probably would not be received the same way as it was back in the seventies. That is not only because of the dated special effects, but today’s producers would find this film a little on the slow side. However, I found the rather slow pace of the film to be fairly relaxing, and it had a clever, well-planned story that I enjoyed following.
What I found most interesting about the film is how Spielberg was able to transition the book so well into the film; unfortunately, some telling scenes were cut from the theatrical version that would’ve made the film better as a whole (they are included as deleted scenes in the Collector’s version.) Compared to the malevolent alien films put out there today, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a refreshing alternative with a little bit more intellectual input than your average human beings win over alien invaders plot. Spielberg certainly didn’t start the aliens from space idea. But, he certainly made them a little friendlier, and it is this very legacy that makes it such a classic.
"Barton Fink" Film Review
My gut feeling after watching "Barton Fink" back in high school was that I didn’t like it. At the time, some of the grosser allegories didn’t thrill me, but I hadn't really ever seen a film like this before. After our film class discussion, I realized that there was a lot that I actually did like about it, and it's a film I need to watch again.
I especially enjoyed some of the witty humor. My favorite and the most memorable was Bill Mayhew’s bit about “social lubricant” in reference to alcohol. Social functions are certainly the most common use of alcohol, and I found such a reference to be clever.
Also, the use of the Genesis passage that looked just like the beginning of Barton’s script was also very interesting. It would seem that Barton was pretty darn convinced that he wasn't just a writer, but the Almighty Creator Himself in his mind. It took me a little bit to figure that out. But as a writer myself, I know how devoted writers sometimes do get rather egotistical about their work.
Many writers, more often than not, hate being told how and what to write. Oftentimes, it is because we as writers can become quite sure that we alone know what is best to be written. Barton Fink is a perfect example of a supposedly fine writer who is asked to write, what he believes, is below his level.
His current assignment is to script a B picture about wrestling. However, Barton has no real interest in a physical struggle between two big, nasty, sweaty men. Barton wants to write about an inner struggle, wrestling with inner demons. It would seem that such a story about an inner struggle is the “Barton Fink feeling” that Mr. Lipnick of Capitol Pictures refers to in his first interview with Barton. Apparently, however, the “Barton Fink” feeling is lost on him.
When Barton hands Mr. Lipnick the final script for the wrestling picture, Lipnick hates it. He obviously has no clue what the “Barton Fink feeling” is, nor does he care. It would seem that he’s too stupid to understand the concept of the inner struggle that Barton is writing about.
Lipnick is only interested in giving people what they expect from motion pictures - dumb, senseless formulaic entertainment. Barton Fink wants to create something “big” and “important” as he says so often. I would have to think that the Barton Fink feeling is reflected through this movie, which is about a writer’s inner struggle with writer’s block.
The Hotel Earle is a representation of Barton’s mind or more appropriately his mental processes. If I’m interpreting the film correctly, Los Angeles, in Barton’s mind, is Hell. He doesn’t want to be there. He is very uncomfortable. Charlie Meadows makes him comfortable.
What Barton seems to so blatantly miss, is that Charlie, one of the main characters of the film, is actually “the Devil” in disguise. It is all possible that everything that occurs in the Hotel Earle is not real at all. It seems to simply represent the inner consciousness of Barton Fink. It is a possibility that all that happens within the Earle could very possibly be an example of a story in the “Barton Fink” genre.
The Coen brothers use a strange corollary between creator and demon. Some people liken it to the point of comparing God and Satan, the Creator and the Devil. I think that the comparison is to a lesser degree, because this is only a man we’re talking about, indeed a man who creates for a living, but he is still nothing more than a man. He is a man who is struggling to write a very big and important story for and about the common man.
However, Barton doesn’t listen to the common man, who is apparently Charlie - but that we learn is actually not. The point that the film is making is that Barton doesn’t listen to anyone. He is too busy looking for pain and suffering to incorporate into his story, living the “life of the mind” that has no road map.
Charlie, who is actually not a common man at all, gives him the pain and suffering he’s looking for, giving him that road map by killing all those people: the girl, Mayhew, and his family. From clues sprinkled throughout the film, it would seem that what happens to Barton in the film is in fact what is happening in the movie that he is writing. This aspect of the plot was probably the most interesting part of the movie.
Whether or not I fully appreciated the aesthetics of this particular film at the time, I must admit that “Barton Fink” had a very solid and original plot. The Coen brothers delivered a very unique, memorable interpretation of writer’s block. It was, in itself, a pseudo-B movie about a writer writing a B movie.
While it isn’t one of my favorite films, “Barton Fink” gave me interest in checking out more of the Coen Brothers’ films. It is certainly a film with excellent acting and vivid imagery that will certainly remain in my memory forever.
Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barton_Fink
"Some Like it Hot" Classic Film Review
"Some Like It Hot" may not seem like the Number One comedy of all time to some people. It may be because it doesn't give them the "die-laughing" sort of jokes and the type of humor that they may be used to today. But when speaking of comedies in general, there are likely very few that are better than this one is in so many different aspects.
What makes “Some Like it Hot” a brilliant stand-out from many other comedies is its creative writing. It has a plot that has stood the test of time, great direction by Billy Wilder, and brilliant acting by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. It also included Marilyn Monroe, the greatest star of their era. Though she may have not been an overly talented actor, she certainly fit her part in this film as Sugar. These things are no doubt what has made many film critics dub this movie the Number One comedy of all time, as the American Film Institute did in 2001.
Here is a story that holds up over time: two guys dressing up as women will always provoke humor! Just watching Curtis and Lemmon (Joe and Jerry) in their emulations of female characters is enough to crack a few chuckles. It really isn’t possible to not get quite a few laughs, giggles, or chuckles out of this film, because there is a bit of humor for each and every taste.
The film’s humor for the most part is intelligent and witty. It doesn’t have a lot of the slapstick (physical) humor that many folks today are accustomed to, and some of the jokes require a little bit more brain usage than other comedy films. Most of the film is littered with playful, light humor, especially one bit about the Shell gas stations (which has passed the test of time).
“Some Like it Hot" is full of unpredictable situations. There’s the banquet where the other mobsters murder Colombo and his men, allowing Joe and Jerry’s escape. The ending is an absolute classic, when Jerry confesses to Osgood Fielding quite animatedly of his manhood. Osgood’s reply: “Nobody’s perfect!”
What makes this film work so well is the fine chemistry between the actors, especially Curtis and Lemmon. They work very well together as a comedy duo, mostly because Joe/Josephine is a more serious and practical character than Jerry/Daphne who goes out of his/her way to be as un-serious as possible. These contrasts make for a classic hero and sidekick pair that is an integral part of good comedy.
Joe is the smart fellow, who devises the plans, and Tony Curtis does a good job with the voices and a certainly fine job on the accent of his millionaire persona, Junior. Jack Lemmon’s Jerry scoffs at Joe’s plans, but as it goes with sidekicks, he reluctantly goes along with Joe’s conceptions and makes the best of the often detrimental, but amusing situations he’s put through. It is comical in itself that Joe gets Sugar, and that Jerry is stuck with Fielding. This film is a prime example of the classic hero and his sidekick.
Many of the characters in “Some Like it Hot” are archetypes that have long been part of classic narrative. Joe, played by Tony Curtis, is the archetype of a ladies’ man, what we would call today as the “player.” Jerry, played by Jack Lemmon, is his faithful sidekick. Marilyn Monroe's Sugar is the archetype of the innocent, naïve girl, from Kansas no less - what we would today call a “dumb blonde.” Spats Colombo is your classic mobster boss, surrounded by dumb fools, just like the archetypical Chicago mobsters.
Because the parts were so well-acted in a very well written story, audiences will be able to associate with these characters for a long time. They aren’t simply caricatures of people in that day, and it’s possible to relate so well to the characters, because the role that each one of them plays is well-known to us through all of the narratives that we have ever experienced. A perfect example of one of these roles is Marilyn Monroe’s. It is said earlier in this review that she fit her part so well, and it would seem to me that the part was written for her; although she was indeed the third or fourth choice for the part, it doesn’t seem that way. Marilyn Monroe personifies in this film what we are very familiar with: the cliche “dumb blonde.” The part was written so well by Billy Wilder that she slipped right into it without having to be any thing she wasn’t. We seem to have a great amount of this “dumb blonde” archetype in today’s films, and not enough great duos like Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are to back them up.
There are many sorts of comedies, some of which are clearly made only for laughs, others which actually have some sort of narrative with a sort of point, and others that are good films that just cannot be serious. “Some Like it Hot” is a comedy that has laughs, a narrative with cleverly hidden social commentary (Osgood Fielding’s treatment of women, for example), fine acting, directing, and writing. There are very few films that can match everything done here in this masterpiece of a film. “Some Like it Hot” is a film to watch again; it’s one of those comedies that you’ll want to watch dozens of times, and even then it probably won’t get old. Best of all, years from now, this comedy will still be funny, because it’s a film about human nature. Human nature, and the archetypes of classic narrative which this film is based on, will never grow old.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like it Hot")
"Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure" Animated Film Review (Direct to DVD)
As someone who was a huge fan of the original "Charlotte's Web" story written by E.B. White, I've always loved the classic 1973 animated film adaption. Now I'll be taking a look at the 2003 direct-to-DVD animated sequel, Charlotte's Web 2. It's an interesting film, but maybe not for the right reasons. There are some interesting sub-plots that seemed thrown on for substance. But the film is subtitled "Wilbur's Great Adventure" and it is an adventure!
The Pros of the Film
The animation is obviously considerably different from the 1973 Hanna-Barbera version. That was to be expected. It's pleasant to look at and I don't have any problems with the updates they made to some of the characters - especially Wilbur. I didn't mind that the animators gave Aranea, Nellie, and Joy (Charlotte's daughters) cute little hairdos to tell them apart. In fact, I love how they gave each of them distinct personalities.
Aranea,the blonde one with three ponytails, has a rather comical inability to create a proper web. Apparently, she has never caught a fly in her life. We'll excuse the obvious logical flaws with that one. The red-headed Nellie, who seems to be the "leader" of the three, is a crazy daredevil always trying to pull stunts because of the "rush" it gives her. Then there's Joy with the cute purple bob, who just sort of has an attitude and is the pessimist of the group. It all works, though.
After that, the plot is very simple. There's a black sheep born named Cardigan. The other sheep (the white ones) all pick on him. Wilbur takes exception to this, bursting into the sheep's pen and instantly befriending Cardigan. Much like Jeffrey the little gosling in the original film, Cardigan decides he wants to be a pig and starts acting like one. It's a cute schtick, I guess, but not exactly original.
When Things Get Corny...
That's where things go a little downhill. The first song, "It's Not Hard to Be a Pig" is incredibly stupid and makes Wilbur look incredibly dumb. It's not well-sung, either. That's no offense to the guy who voiced Wilbur. Otherwise he and all the other voice actors did a good job.
Here's the next big thing that got me, and it's a major one. One of my greatest issues with the film is that they made Wilbur a flat-out coward. Yes, he fainted a bunch in the original film. But bloodsucking spiders and, of course, thoughts of your impending demise, can make a lot of people feel woozy. But the writers of this film decided, straight off from the beginning, to turn Wilbur back into an absolute coward. I let it go at the beginning. But it started to bother me around this point that the writers made this little alteration to Wilbur's character just to make a plot out of it. After all the courage that he gained from the original story, this was a character reversal that I really didn't appreciate.
So Zuckerman decides to take Cardigan and Wilbur back to the fair. As it turns out, it's been only a year since the previous fair. Zuckerman wants to show off his black sheep and brings Wilbur along for the heck of it. It's so they can be paired together as "Zuckerman's Famous Animals." There's nothing wrong with this part, at least.
Nellie, being the adventurous one, tags along. Of course, Templeton the Rat joins her, who can't wait to glut himself again at the fair as he did in the original film/book. Actually, the bit with his four kids shown at the end of the original film being a great handful was pretty cute. That was a part that I liked. At this point, even with the film's early problems, it was starting to come together for me.
But then there's a silly subplot about Fern. She's the girl who saved Wilbur from her father who was going to kill him because he was a runt. Fern is raising a special sort of large tomato and taking it to the fair. She goes as far to sing to the tomato and names "her" Sal. Thankfully, there are no songs featuring the tomato.
At the fair, Cardigan is getting a lot of attention, which he doesn't like. Wilbur reminds him that it's only because he's special. But when the onlookers discover that there's no web over Wilbur this time, they shrug and walk away. One walks away even suggesting that the zucchini were more interesting.
Wilbur doesn't feel so special anymore. That's understandable. But then, there's this ridiculous bit where he envisions a bunch of forks and knives chasing after him. I could have lived with that. Unfortunately, there's a song with it. The song, honestly, kind of amused me, as stupid as it all was.
Soon after, Farmer Zuckerman decides that he wants to sell Cardigan to a local farmer for his wool. Wilbur is very upset by this and Fern arrives to let her uncle (Farmer Zuckerman) know that Wilbur doesn't want him to go. But Zuckerman says it's business and ignores her. He sells Cardigan anyway.
The "Meat" of the Film
Wilbur decides he has to go on an adventure to see if Cardigan is alright. The Goose (named Gwen in this film) gives him directions. Wilbur hires Templeton (who's been to the farm that Cardigan was sold to before) to be his guide. Templeton's fee is baby-sitting his four kids for a couple of weeks.
The rest of the film is basically that adventure, of Wilbur continuing to be a coward until they reach the farm where Cardigan is. By the time he gets there though, Wilbur is an absolute mess. He has leaves, brambles and sticks and things stuck to him to the point that he looks like a wild boar. A couple of farmers driving by in the night saw him. They put out word that there's a wild pig on the loose.
This is when we get to the "villain" of the film, who was actually introduced towards the beginning of the film. Farley Fox is his name. Honestly, he's probably the most interesting character in the film. Wilbur had saved a gosling from his demise earlier, and now he makes his way to the farm that Cardigan is at.
Farley sneaks into the hen-house and takes out a hen and some eggs. Cardigan and some of the other animals at the farm urge Wilbur to stop the fox. Being the coward he is, though, Farley is able to easily escape. The farmer's wife goes after Wilbur, believing him to be a troublesome wild boar.
Farley is now gloating over his victory. His "song" which is more like a rhyming monologue put to music is probably my favorite of the four in the film. He's quite the self-centered fox genius. At the end of his little musical bit, he catches sight of Cardigan, who he immediately snatches away.
Wilbur, always the coward, suddenly remembers what Charlotte told him once: friendship is a tremendous thing. Wilbur "mans" up and decides to go after the fox to save Cardigan. Templeton is happy to join him, explaining that he had many cousins that met their demise at the paws of a fox. Now, this was a personal vendetta for him. It's great that they give Templeton such a big part in the film. One of the cows at the farm, Bessie (who makes nothing but sour milk) tags along.
A Rather Weak Conclusion
This is where the film just falls apart for me. Obviously, if a fox had caught a little lamb like Cardigan, he would've torn him to shreds almost immediately. The very fact that Farley drags him back to his "foxhole," which is actually the basement of a dilapidated old farmhouse, is just absurd. The very fact that Wilbur, Bessie, Templeton, and Charlotte's three daughters are able to outsmart him is just really, really absurd.
On a good note, the three sisters have a cute little song. It was a mite TOO cute as they work to try and spin a web to prove Wilbur's innocence (trying to write Fox). It didn't work out too well, at first. However, by the time that Farley is captured, in a web of WILBUR'S making, the girls have managed to write the word FOX in a web right above the ensnared fox. This is enough to convince the silly humans that it was a fox that was the culprit the whole time. The film ends with Aranea and Joy staying behind with Cardigan to keep him company. Meanwhile, Wilbur has to return home to make good on his promise to baby-sit Templeton's kids. It's all really silly.
Overall, this film would have never done very well had it not been packaged with the DVD release of the original film. It was a direct-to-DVD film and it shows. While it makes for a cute spectacle for fans of the original story, it has all sorts of plot-holes that kill it for me. It's clear that there was some effort put into character development, and I did enjoy seeing Aranea, Joy, and Nellie come to life. They were the best part of the film for me.
But overall, the film was so corny and cliched that it just can't hold a candle to the original. For what it is, though, it's OK. But unless you're a huge fan of the original story, it's not really worth watching.
"Charlotte's Web" Animated Film Review
Not long ago, I dug out my DVD's of both the original animated film of Charlotte's Web and its sequel (yes, there was a Charlotte's Web sequel). It was the first time I'd seen it in 10 years, as I hadn't seen it since I first bought the two-pack DVD set that had it and its direct-to-video sequel. It brought back a lot of memories of watching this movie over and over on the VHS tape that we had of it when I was little. I'm pretty sure I wore that out, and I'm not sure we even still have that tape in our possession after all of these years - unless it's shoved into some closet somewhere. The DVD is obviously better quality, though, so I'm not complaining.
The songs are as catchy and fun as I remember, and although I know they can be a bit cheesy, remember that it was a children's film made in the early seventies. The Shermans did a fantastic job with both the musical arrangements and lyrics. It still greatly amuses me that when Wilbur first learns to talk to the other animals that his vocabulary is some how college-level. Yet he doesn't understand what the words "salutations" or "versatile" mean. The film follows the classic E.B. White story very closely, and although Hanna-Barbera took some artistic license, as usual, they did a great job.
Debbie Reynolds was amazing as the voice of Charlotte. Julia Roberts in the live-action version, which I think is far inferior to this film, was nowhere as good as Charlotte, in my opinion. Henry Gibson did a fine job as Wilbur, as did Paul Lynde with Templeton. All of the voice acting was excellent. The story was well put together and the animation was beautiful. I love old-school animation.
Watching the sequel with its much updated animation (as nice as it looks) was incredibly weird. Also, before I get to it, the sequel is not based on anything that E.B. White himself actually wrote. I don't think he ever really saw a need for a sequel.
In any case, the second animated film, which was a direct-to-video film, cannot ever compare to this one. Maybe this one is dated in the eyes of some, but it's still a treasure, just like the original book. I wish the live-action film had lived up to its predecessor. Some people really loved that version, whereas I thought it was actually kind of boring. But as is the case with many remakes, the original is almost always simply far better.
Sailor Moon is quite a beloved franchise, both by myself and perhaps millions of others. Today, I would like to discuss anticipation and how causing too much anticipation can create unrealistic expectations, which is just what has been happening with the franchise's latest incarnation, Sailor Moon Crystal.
Back in junior high, I absolutely loved the Sailor Moon anime. It was a show I really got into. I ended up seeing all of the original Japanese versions (sub-titled) of course, as the dub version always felt lacking to me – and it was. Many have harped on the show, complaining that it felt too formulaic and was too focused on pretty girls in sailor suits. It sort of was, when the original point of the manga it was based on was meant to be a story about girl empowerment. In any case, I forgave the show’s shortcomings, as it was fun to watch the Sailor Senshi (known in the dub as the Sailor Scouts) kick some serious Nega-verse butt!
So when I heard that this July there would be a new Sailor Moon series for the first time in well over a decade, I was obviously pretty excited. I was actually quite happy with the first episode, as were many other viewers. The new anime, Sailor Moon Crystal, is meant to be more faithful to the original manga than the old anime from 22 years ago was. I liked the introduction and how it didn’t spoon-feed you a bunch of information like the original anime did. It created more of a realistic feel and the first episode, in my opinion, was pretty strong for the first Sailor Moon episode in so long.
Other people weren’t quite as impressed. Some had issues with the animation and that Usagi’s (also known in the dub as Serena) voice sounded forced. I do agree that animation style is different, but I think it’s fine and the CGI is beautiful. Usagi’s voice does sound a little forced, but I’m forgiving it for now. It was exciting to me that this re-envisioning was happening, and I could expect there to be some changes to the newer version that might irk some people. I was excited for the prospect that this show might have more depth than the original.
Two Weeks for a Half-Hour Episode?
However, there is a major problem about this show’s airing that I want to discuss. The show started off only being aired in Japan every first and third Saturday of the month. That’s every two weeks. You might think at first, oh wait, that’s great, isn’t it? That way they can come out with high-quality episodes every two weeks instead of rushing things out every week. At least, that’s what you’d think. When the second episode aired, two weeks after the glorious premiere, there were a lot of mixed reviews. For my part, I loved the second episode. It reintroduced Ami, better known as Sailor Mercury, who is a character I always had a soft spot for: the lonely genius. I liked how Usagi and Ami became such fast friends, but I admit, from a storytelling point of view, it felt pretty forced. But I didn’t care because it’s a new Sailor Moon episode! Let’s just get everyone introduced, so we can move on with the story, right?
From some quick browsing about online, it’s clear that a lot of people were not exactly impressed with the second episode. The plot does seem to be conveniently rushed along. Let’s be honest, though. They just want to make sure that they get the five main characters - Usagi, Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako - all introduced as swiftly as possible. (For those that only ever saw the dub, that would be Serena, Amy, Raye, Lita, and Mina, respectively.) But is this the right way to do it? I’m not certain that it is.
When you’re launching any sort of new series, you need to create good expectations for your audience. I’m not sure they’re doing that too well. By spacing out the episodes so much, yes, you do create anticipation. But then you create a sort of stress for your audience, and you also create an opportunity to disappoint them far more greatly. By giving your audience more time to sit there and create broader expectations, the delivery then has to be perfect. Yes, there will be the sub-set of those like me that will not be so picky and just like it for what it is – a trip down memory lane. But if you create the anticipation that two weeks of waiting will cause, you’re going to create very, very lofty expectations. If you don’t meet those expectations, you’re going to lose people.
Obviously, two episodes was too soon to tell, but I saw a concerning pattern emerging here that bothered me. Others online have already brought it up, as well: they seemed to be forcing things together awfully fast. The third episodes rushed in Rei. But when the fourth episode came around, things slowed down a bit. Makoto (Sailor Jupiter) wasn’t introduced until Episode 5. Then we had to wait an additional week for Episode 6, which turned out to be a very good one, but three weeks for an episode?
Building Anticipation and Creating High Expectations
As someone who’s worked in content marketing, it seems really dumb to me to space them out this much. Many content experts will tell you to post content early and often, and there is a good reason for this. It’s not only about keeping yourself top of mind – although that is certainly important. It’s about creating expectations. If you consistently pump out small bits of quality content, it’s better at creating more realistic expectations than posting something every two weeks. If you have a good solid audience already, as is the case with Sailor Moon Crystal, a fan-base that has been starved of new content for over fifteen years, you have to deliver when you release new content. Fortunately, after the first three episodes, they’ve been delivering a lot more solidly.
A half-hour episode that seems like it was rushed out just to make people happy is not going to work for die-hard fans of a show. When you’re doing a re-launch, you’re trying to attract a new generation of fans, as well, and people are seemingly a bit under-whelmed so far. I’m not saying the second episode was terrible – it wasn’t. There were some really cute parts, but the whole sequence of events did seem awfully rushed. I have to say the original anime did a better job with Ami’s introduction overall, although I love the way that they did the job here. For someone who’s just happy to see it, it’s fine; lots of old-time Sailor Moon fans will be like that. But in attracting a new audience, it’s going to seem a bit half-assed. And in waiting two weeks for a new episode, that’s going to lose a lot of people who will simply just forget about it and have something else grab their attention in the meantime.
Content marketing is exactly the same way. Whether it’s online or not, you have to be consistent in your delivery, but also live up to your audience’s expectations. Two weeks is a long time to wait for new content. Patient fans of the original series that are happy just to have something new to enjoy and wax nostalgic about will mainly be satisfied just seeing their old friends brought back to life. But the whole point in doing a new show should be to attract new fans. I don’t think people new to Sailor Moon are given the proper opportunity to get to know the characters than old-time fans like myself got to know and love. I love that they’re giving the show a new treatment, but I’d rather have an episode every week, with a new character every two. I could live with that. The anticipation won’t build quite as much and you don’t have to deliver super special awesome content every two weeks. You can relax a bit and let people get into the weekly habit of watching a new show.
Show Viewers are Creatures of Habit
That’s the other major problem with having a new episode every two weeks. Human beings are creatures of habit. It’s a lot harder to get people to make a bi-weekly habit than a weekly habit. If they were to do, say, a weekly sort of teaser video, like a short “vignette” episode, that might help keep people’s attention better. It’s not that people won’t create a bi-weekly habit. But it takes far more for people to be invested in it. I feel like Sailor Moon Crystal isn’t going to do that for anyone except the die-hard fans of the original show and dedicated otakus.
If you’re producing content on a bi-weekly basis, it needs to be absolutely phenomenal. If you have other content that keeps your audience primed for what’s to come, it definitely helps. Sailor Moon Crystal obviously isn’t doing that, at least not as far as I know, and that’s a big marketing fail in my opinion. It’s as if they’re only doing it simply for nostalgic reasons. That’s fine for me, but I felt they could potentially throw away a big opportunity here.
Fortunately, once they introduced Rei and Makoto (they haven’t brought in Minako – also known as Sailor V full time yet) they did slow things down and really let the newer viewers get to know the story and the characters better. An anime based off of a manga should be much more smoothly paced and not rushed along like in the way they started off. Sure, I have no trouble following it, but I know the source material. Most of today’s audience wasn’t alive yet when the original Sailor Moon aired. Fortunately, Toei Animation got their act together and fortunately aren’t wasting this opportunity to create a brand new era for Sailor Moon and her buddies.
If anything, Sailor Moon Crystal has been huge for Crunchyroll. It’s one of the shows they deliver for free and it is in fact gaining a lot of steam, especially since Sailor Jupiter, one of the show’s most popular character, has been introduced (she’s my favorite of the original Senshi!) So they didn’t blow it, but wow, it’s a long two weeks between episodes, and pray they never have another three week gap!
Today’s takeaway is this: if you’re going to make your audience wait, then deliver something special and awesome that they’ll be talking about for the next two weeks. If you can’t do that, then you’re going to need to come up with other content to keep your audience amused in the meantime. Or, just do something weekly that can lead into next week without trying to do everything in one shot bi-weekly. The idea is to give your audience just enough content that they are invested in it, without giving them too much at once, and making them have to wait for blasts every two weeks. Sailor Moon Crystal may have gotten away with it, but it’s a one-in-a-million show as it is.
Photo credit: http://www.crunchyroll.com/sailor-moon-crystal - Fair Use
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
Lyn is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! While rescuing civilians from boring business practices and energy vampires, this awesomely crazy family conquers evil and creates change.
They live among tigers, dragons, mermaids, unicorns, and other fantastic energies, teaching others to claim their own power and do the same.
By supporting us, you support a dedicated parent, healer, and minority small business that donates to several causes. Profits from our all-inclusive store, Intent-sive Nature support these causes and our beautiful family!
HIRE OR SHOP WITH LYN | CONTACT LYN