This week we tried two new shows on NBC, Trauma and Mercy. I was very excited about Trauma as there has not been a good show about paramedics since Emergency! In the 70's. The pilot of Trauma started out with a spectacular helicopter crash worthy of a feature film and also had a well choreographed car crash due to texting. The characters are interesting and there is of course some human stories behind the action.
Mercy, about an ER nurse at a NY hospital is on the other hand, not very interesting. This is because it appears to be a recreation of Nurse Jackie currently on Showtime. Similar characters and concept. This got me thinking about movies that seem to be copies of previous better movies.
Usually there is a successful budy movie or toilet humor movie followed by a dozen rip offs looking for gold but basically made with smaller budgets, worse scripts and actors. This makes me wonder what studios are thinking. Don't they realize that copying other successful movies is not what the movie going public is looking for? Well maybe they do maybe they don't or maybe original ideas are hard to come by.
Then there are movies that just copy one scene or sequence. Clear and Present Danger had an awesome sequence where baddies shoot rockets at Harrison Ford's motorcade (after they went to see Firewall presumably). The same year the same sequence was recreated in a lower budget movie also about fighting baddies. Coincidence, homage or just blatant lack of new ideas?
Bruce Willis said that the reason he waited so long to do a 4th Die Hard movie is that nobody was bringing him anything original. The last straw was when somebody said, "Imagine 'Die Hard' set in a skyscraper!" He was so flabbergasted by this that he stopped taking pitches for ANYTHING for a while.
For all that it was a sequel, Die Hard 4 was pretty original - especially the part where a car went up a ramp coming out of a tunnel and took a low-flying helicopter out of the sky. The way they shot that was to send a car out of a tunnel, up a ramp, so that it hit the helicopter! The 'copter was on a crane, but still. Gotta love THAT.
I thought Die Hard 4 was ok. The fact that Die Hard movies are still being made is in and of itself amazing, but by the same token that seems to be the trend - 80's action heroes making new versions of their classic films. Lethal Weapon 5 and Commando 2 can't be far behind.
I found it interesting that the opening salvo of badness in the last season of 24 was pretty much the plot of Die Hard 4 - a Fire Sale. There again, did the 24 writers not see Die Hard 4? Perhaps they did. Or perhaps bad guys just don't have any original ideas. Luckily John McLaine thinks outside the box. Maybe he should team up with Jack Bauer.
Speaking of copycats... Years ago, my brother wrote a cool action/adventure story and sent it out to the subscribers of his electronic tales website. Some time later one of his friends called him up and suggested he watch the new James Bond flick, Goldeneye. He did watch it –slack jawed and amazed to discover that it was a blatant adaptation of his story, complete with several scenes that were entirely unaltered from his original story. It's too bad he got no credit and no money. He could have used a little of both.
The Harrison Ford Clear and Present Danger thing was re-sold as stock footage to the makers of JAG for an episode, they also liked to buy stock from Top Gun and etc.
I read where the indie business is really hurting now because the bad economy means investment dollars are all swallowed up by just big studios playing things as safe as possible, going only with known quantities and repeats of things that have already proven popular. Nobody feels they can afford to take a risk on an unknown or offbeat idea. Heck, even a slam-dunk project like the "HALO" movie got shelved because the company was afraid Blomkamp didn't have the chops for it, look at District 9 and you can see he sure does.
Hey, how about "Die Hard" in a circus? A Theme park? A University campus? A hospital? A Film Production office?
As far as new shows, I had low expectations for "Community" but am liking it so far. It's no "My Name is Earl", and I don't much like the lead, but the rest of the cast is good, and the writing is pretty snappy. I also kind of like "Parks & Recreation", but I think that one is going to burn out rather faster because of the dramatic conceit of the roving documentarian camera. Great and novel for "The Office". Not really so much for "Parks". I like it, the cast is great, but I don't think it is going to last.
Or to quote Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, "thanks to the magic of Disney animatronics, Strom Thurmond will live another hundred years". Just substitute Eddie Murphy's name for Strom Thurmond and we are in business.
I could imagine a Beverly Hills Cop movie that was based around a bunch of formerly-rich people, devastated by the investments meltdown, needing to commit crimes to keep up appearances and the lifestyles to which they've become accustomed.
You can option it from me for cheap, have your people call my people.