We've got summer blockbusters on the brain this week on the Hollywood Prospectus, and so we thought it'd be a good time to run back some of the summer movies we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts, the films that epitomize everything a summer movie should be. There will be explosions, there will be bus jumps, there will be fridge-nukes. But mostly, there will be our enduring love of summer escapism in its purest form. (Also, three-breasted hookers.)
Gangster Squad makes its long-delayed debut this week, and the Grantland staff couldn't help but notice that, from the looks of the trailers, at least, this film seems to feature a noticeable excess of hats. This places it in an important, rarefied echelon of headgear-oriented motion pictures, which we will now salute in this explosive first installment of the 2013 YouTube Hall of Fame.
We’ve arrived: Sequeltology, Episode Final IV. A new hope? Well. Not exactly.
Look, no one goes into a sequel expecting to be surprised, right? We go to be comforted, to lose ourselves completely in the sweet, Jujube stickiness of familiarity. So why should this bracket be any different? Sequels take the risk out of both filmmaking and filmgoing, which is probably why they’re so popular on both ends of the ledger. Seriously: Hollywood wags are quick to scold studios for pumping out parts two and three, but rarely utter a peep about the audience’s unslakable desire to see them. (People aren’t sheep; The Dark Knight Rises did better than, say, Rock of Ages or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter this summer because it was a better movie! Also because of this.) At the start, this Sequeltology tournament was filled with all sorts of secondary second installments and culty continuations, but even Han Solo post-carbonite could have seen where we were headed in the end.
“Archaeology is the search for fact not truth.”
— Indiana Jones
The late Jeffrey Boam is the sole credited screenwriter of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Boam was one of those talented, can-do-anything '80s Hollywood script stars — his credits include The Lost Boys, Innerspace, Funny Farm, and, no stranger to sequels, Lethal Weapon(s) II and III. But he didn’t really write the third installment in the Indy franchise. “Tom [Stoppard] is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue,” Steven Spielberg said in 2009. Stoppard is arguably the world’s greatest living playwright, so it’s no surprise that he gifted Indy with a mind-gem like the above. It’s a useful mantra for Sequeltology. This is math, not an emotional guidepost to your heart. It’s a daily, tabulated, categorical, ruthless manifestation of What’s Fact Now. And the fact is, you guys hate Rocky Balboa.
Every week on the Hollywood Prospectus Podcast, Chris Ryan and I discuss the pop culture issues of the day. But when the topic was the greatest sequels of all time, we knew we had to get bigger and better. In the world of podcasting, that can only mean one thing: grabbing special guest star Chuck Klosterman to help us break down the currently raging Sequeltology tournament. (We tried to get Mr. Sequel himself, The Rock, but he was busy filming The Tooth Fairy 2: This Time He Wants Your Gums.)
Of course, Chuck being Chuck, before we had a chance to say the words “Temple of Doom” he came at us with some thoughts on Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (1:45), an arty 2011 film that we’ve discussed before. But since there will most likely never be a Margaret: Episode II (7:55), we eventually dove into the wilds of our latest contentious, totally arbitrary bracket. (Be sure to vote now on Grantland’s Facebook page!) Topics covered include the greatest American movie of all time, Lord of the Rings vs. Star Wars, hoverboards vs. webbing, Paul Reiser’s career, and the folk singer who played a mute, scythe-wielding terrorist in Die Hard With a Vengeance (it was Sam Phillips). There was also time to touch on this list of crazy sequels that never were made and the apparently unforgettable trailer to the otherwise forgettable Chinatown follow-up, The Two Jakes.
We couldn’t let Chuck go without getting his take on Sunday’s momentous Breaking Bad (46:50) as well as the season thus far. This, predictably, digressed into a talk about network TV vs. cable and the differences between things that are derivative and those that are familiar. Here’s hoping this podcast is the latter. There’s plenty of time for it to be the former when we do the whole thing again in six months, only with a bigger budget and more explosions.
Silver: I make no secret of my steadfast and wholehearted love for Sam Raimi. I’ll get his back when needed ("Spider-Man 3 was not his fault. It’s one of the clearest examples of studio meddling"), apologize for him (“But you have to admit the baseball scenes in For the Love of the Game were pretty great. You could totally tell he was a real baseball fan”), justify his shortcomings (“The Quick and the Dead is underrated. And just look at that cast — Stone, DiCaprio, Crowe, Sinise, and Hackman — the guy’s got an eye for casting”), and fully embrace his flaws (“Yeah, I just bought a bootleg copy of Crimewave on eBay. That movie rocks!”). So I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not going to be able to provide the most unbiased critique of his latest film, Oz: The Great and Powerful.
Editor's note: The Fourth of July is but one week away, and though your friends here at Grantland will be taking the day off, we figured we'd start the celebration early with a dazzling array of notable explosions. After all, is there anything more American, or at least more dead-of-summer, than mindlessly watching shit blow up? (If you don't see the videos, please try another browser. We put them in, we promise.)
Dan Silver: The Mythbusters have since admitted that they probably used too many explosives in this bit. I think that was a good call — this cement truck literally disappears — there’s no debris. And the sound is much closer to a devilish fart than any explosion I’ve ever heard.
We will ask Frank Marshall — the producer behind four Indiana Jones movies, three Back to the Future movies, The Sixth Sense, Seabiscuit, and four Bourne movies — about the soul-nuking possibility that Indiana Jones is headed to the Bermuda Triangle. We will.
But first Frank Marshall has directed a new ESPN documentary, Right to Play, which premieres Saturday. It’s about Johann Olav Koss, the Olympic speed-skating champion. In 1994, on his home ice of Lillehammer, Norway, Olav Koss won three gold medals. Marshall, who saw the races live, remembers the sounds of “cowbells and people just screaming.” After the races, Koss turned to do-gooding.