Fun with Franchises

Today, we’re starting a new feature here at B+ Movie Blog. Like most things I do, I’m amazed it hasn’t happened sooner.

One of my great joys is just tearing into shit for fun (which I’ve been doing forever… good friends of mine will remember “Triumph of the Klaus.” And going back even further, I’ve been doing it in some iteration since middle school), and then, since I started the blog, I’ve had a lot of fun putting up articles with screenshots and having fun with those as well.

Originally it started with a treatise about Tron: Legacy and how (while I liked it) it was representative of a lot of the stuff in movies today that I hate. Then I did some articles about Hugo and how wonderful it is, teaching people about the history of the movies. And that’s when I decided to do full-on ongoing features like that, which turned into the Ranking Disney and Ranking Bond series. Ranking Disney was fun, but Ranking Bond — those things were the most fun I’ve had on this blog (that weren’t the end of the year and Oscar stuff I do every year. That’s it’s own level of fun). I loved doing those. Plus I got to include my friend Colin (whose blog is TokyoRemix.com. Fuck yeah, promotion!), and we got to play off of one another and riff back and forth while talking about them.

Which is really what made them so much fun. Me doing them and making jokes is one thing, but to have Colin making his own set of jokes, and playing off of what I said and us getting into discussions about stuff — that’s the best part. Nothing would make me happier than reading Colin’s comments about the movies. Because one of two things will always happen — either he’ll take a completely different angle than I did, and it’ll be hilarious (one of his comments that made me laugh the hardest was during the Man with the Golden Gun article when Goodnight gets thrown in the trunk and he said “I love how in Thailand a woman can get thrown in the trunk of a car in broad daylight and no one says SHIT”), or he’ll make the exact same joke that I did, while watching the movie separately and not knowing what I wrote, and it’ll be hilarious.

So naturally as soon as we finished the Bond articles, we had two thoughts. First, “We have to do Skyfall when it comes out on DVD.” Which we did. And second — “We have to find more movies to do this with.”

That said, I present to you Fun with Franchises.

Originally it was called “Fucking with Franchises,” but I felt the PG title would go further. The “fuck” in the title was unnecessary. Normally I wouldn’t shy away from something like that, but I didn’t see a need for it. I say that as though it was a committee decision that happened two months into the preproduction, but actually what happened was, I got the idea for this on a Wednesday, started coming up with what franchises we were gonna do first, and on Thursday, said, “I’m thinking I should change the title,” and ten minutes later, the title was changed. It’s not exactly a hi-tech operation over here. It’s pretty much just me doing everything. And Colin also has the ability to go in and edit shit too. Which is pretty incredible, when you consider that over 2,100 posts have gone up on this blog, and only 800 of them are Pics of the Day.

But anyway, what Fun with Franchises is — we sat down and said, “We need to riff on more movies together.” And I wanted to do it for a variety of reasons, the primary one being how much fun it was, but I also didn’t want to impose work on anyone but myself. Because watching the movies, taking the screenshots, writing a synopsis, setting up the articles (putting in all the pictures and setting the text under each picture) — it takes a lot of work. Work I’m happy to do because I love these articles and because they’re so much fun. But I didn’t want to make Colin have to start doing work for them as well. Since for the Bond movies, he was the Bond expert. He had to explain a bunch of shit for me, and he did his own work about the cars — I felt he had to do more work than he should have for something that wasn’t even his blog. Plus, the insane pace I set for them (I started watching them in the middle/end of September with the first article set to go up a month later. And it was one article per film and 22 articles in 22 days. It was insane) — I wasn’t doing anyone any favors. I didn’t want to make him do that again. I wanted it to be simple — I’d do all the work, and he’d just watch the movies on his own speed and comment on them. I wanted to keep it as fun as possible with as little work for anyone but me as possible.

So I thought about what kind of movies would be the best for us to go through and watch — and of course you start with the obvious ones… franchises. You have to start with franchises. Everyone knows the movies, and there are at least three for each one, and you can develop jokes and discussions over the course of all the articles — plus we’ve all seen them all at least three times each. Star Wars, Harry Potter, James Bond, Lord of the Rings — we’ve all seen these movies. We can talk about most of them for hours, and have.

These articles are basically what I did in college. I said this to Colin — when we weren’t in class (which was often. People think I exaggerate when I say that, but you ask most people who knew me, I’m pretty sure they can’t actually lay claim to seeing me do work. And even if I said I was doing work, the moment anyone came through my door, I was talking to them and not doing work), odds are we were sitting in my room, watching movies, having these random ass discussions about stuff, playing Pokémon, or drinking. And what Colin said to me after I said that was, “And often a lot of those were happening at the same time.” Because that’s basically all we did. That’s college. And if it wasn’t in my room where we were having all these discussions, it was at lunch or dinner in a dining hall or something. Or walking some place and having the same discussions. All we’re actually doing here is putting these conversations in writing and and letting other people see them. And that’s the beauty of it.

And we’re doing it because we love these movies. There’s no malice intended. Our opinions of them don’t actually matter. We’re just having fun. We could out and out hate some of them, but we’re taking the time to watch them and talk about them, which makes them in some way worthwhile. And all we’re doing is parodying them. That’s it. We’re not trying to do anything but have fun. All we want is for people to read these articles and go, “Wow, that’s actually really true/funny” to something we said. Even if it’s something as simple as, “Holy shit, the guy behind Legolas in that shot looks like Mickey Rooney on a bender.” And when you watch the movie again, you’ll go, “There’s drunken Mickey Rooney,” and you’ll point it out to your friends, and you’ll make jokes with them and have discussions with them. That’s all I want. I want to continue the circle of having fun with movies with your friends.

And I promised myself I’m not gonna go crazy with it. 22 movies in 22 days was insane. No more of that. Here, all the movies will be broken down into parts, which will allow us more time to sit and digest each one, and talk about all the little nuances and stuff, plus it allows me to stay ahead of the articles. Now, watching one movie allows me up to five days of articles to have at the ready. I like that. It takes up space, and it keeps people coming back. I’m not gonna rush out and finish an entire movie in one day. I want people to be excited to read the next part, the way people tune in each week for their favorite TV shows. Only this will be every day. Well… every week day, at least.

Most films will be in five parts. And they’ll go up Monday through Friday. And on Saturday, Colin and I are gonna do an article where we pick out our favorite shots from the films. We’re still working out the specifics on that, but I figure we’ll each come in with our own favorites, then crank out a list of the ten best, as compiled by both of us, and then maybe list some honorable mentions as well. And then on Sundays, we’ll go over our final thoughts for the films — we’ll talk about how we felt about them as films and as part of their respective franchise. You know, just like we did with the Bond movies, only more fleshed out and slightly more in depth. And then Monday starts the next film in the franchise, or the next franchise, depending.

We’re starting with the Harry Potter franchise, because you kind of have to. Along with Bond, it’s the king of franchises. We’ve done the longest-running franchise (Bond), so now we’ll move to the franchise that has made the most money. Plus everyone my age grew up with it and can speak it fluently. So tomorrow, we’re gonna start with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, if you come from a country that doesn’t feel as if it’s better than the author. This film, along with Chamber of Secrets both have four parts. I didn’t really settle into the groove of five parts until Azkaban. I could have stretched them and broken them into five parts, but I felt I should just leave them. They flow as-is. What’s gonna happen on the extra day — we’ll figure something out. Or we won’t. It don’t make me no never mind.

So that’s how this is gonna work. These Harry Potter films should take a good… two months. Actually… if you’re graduating this year, the franchise should end right around the week (or even day) that you’re graduating. But it’s good. You’ll get one film a day for a week, and have the weekend to catch up on ones you missed and read them again. And you’ll get nearly constant content, and enough of a break to be excited for the next part and the next movie. And believe me — you’re going to enjoy this. It’s basically like watching the movies again, but with people making jokes, rewriting scenes, making comments, and occasionally stopping the movies entirely to go on lengthy discussions about stuff.  Kind of like sitting in a room and watching them with your friends.

Some things to look forward to with these articles — first, all of the articles will have their own individual tones. I noticed as I watched each Potter movie that they turned out wildly different from all the other ones. Just how I approached them in terms of jokes, how I did the synopsis — just everything about them is different. So the whole thing isn’t gonna get stale quickly. Each film and each franchise is gonna be its own thing, which is really exciting, since I don’t know where any of them are gonna go until I start writing them.

I’m also not gonna tell you which franchises come next until we finish the current franchise. I want to maintain anticipation. Though I’m sure you all can imagine the usual suspects. (Plus, I’m going to tell you them all in a minute, and you can guess from there.) But, I’ll tell you now — I’m midway through the second franchise as this goes up, and it’s exciting as hell to me, because every article feels fresh and different from all the other ones.

The other thing we’re all going to enjoy with these articles — Colin and I will be watching the Twilight movies for the first time for this series. Neither of us have watched any of those movies before, and we decided we just had to put them on and do them for the articles, because what better way to start a franchise for the first time than to document every thought you had when watching it? I can only imagine that will go amazingly well. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’re starting our first franchise, and that’s what’s important.

Before we go, I’ll give you guys a list of the franchises that we’re gonna have some fun with. The original list was — and I’ll do it in alphabetical order, so as not to give the actual order away just yet:

  • Batman
  • Harry Potter
  • Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit
  • The Matrix
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Star Wars
  • Transformers
  • Twilight

And this list was originally going to be a single month. (Well, part of it, anyway.) I was gonna do one movie a day for an entire month. Until I realized how stupid that would be and how much work it would require and broke them into parts. So once I did that, I added a couple of other franchises to the list, namely:

  • Bourne
  • Die Hard
  • Indiana Jones
  • Jurassic Park
  • Marvel (all of their phase one stuff)
  • Mission: Impossible
  • Spider-Man
  • X-Men

And that’s pretty much as far as I got. Since those would take a fuck long time as it is. Not to mention that I have other things I want to do (like ranking my favorite Pixar movies, my favorite Ghibli movies, doing something with all those Christmas movies and specials I love). So I’m not really trying to create a huge list of stuff to do. I mostly just want to start with the ones that would be the most fun for me (and for Colin), and be the most likely ones people would enjoy as well. Not to mention — this is all ending come December anyway. Once December happens, I go back into year-end mode, wrapping up the year, previewing next year, and then January/February is all Oscars. So there’s a limited window as to how long it’s going to go anyway. After that, then we’ll take inventory again about what’s next.

Not to mention, there are also some franchises that would seem like obvious choices for these articles, only there are entries in them that make me go, “Yeah… I don’t know if I actually want to have to talk about Rocky V…” Of course, if this thing goes over, and people say they want us to do it, you watch how fucking fast I put that shit on and start talking about ‘Machine’ Gunn and his fucking mullet. But for now… I’m not really crazy about doing Fast and the Furious because I despise the second and third movies there. The Mummy — I live my life pretending that the third one doesn’t even exist and it’s just the first two. Superman? Who even gives a shit about anything but the first two? Rush Hour? The last two movies of that are atrocious. Star Trek? All seventeen of them? Eventually I’ll be able to do the J.J. Abrams ones, but now’s not that time.

And then there are some other ones that would be fun, like maybe Terminator, or the Ocean’s movies (though I don’t really so how much fun those could be. I’d just be watching and going, “Man, they’re having way too much fun to be getting paid all this money”). Maybe the Alien franchise. There really aren’t too many after the core group where people actually care about all of the movies. My goal is to be as strong as possible to start, and then everything after that is us doing it because we’ve established a thing and people want us to keep going and do our thing with stuff. It’ll be more about us than the movies. Because if we’re doing Lethal Weapon 4 and Jaws: The Revenge right off the top — we’re too desperate for our own good. You don’t want us to be scraping the bottom of the barrel right when we’re starting out. (Nothing against the bottom of the barrel, but there are more than enough franchises with almost all quality entries to do before we get to the other ones.) I’m gonna try to be as classy as possible with this. And that’s coming from me, a guy who knows no moral compass when it comes to comedy.

So right now, here are the ones you can expect for certain in this first grouping:

  • Batman (just the Nolan ones for now)
  • Bourne
  • Harry Potter
  • Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit
  • The Matrix
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Star Wars
  • Transformers
  • Twilight

Those are set in stone, and they will take us right up to my end of the year recap articles. The Fun with Franchises season is gonna go from April to December, and then we’ll probably pick it up again back in April, I’d imagine. But for now, let’s get through this batch before we start thinking about the next batch.

So… tomorrow, Fun with Franchises begins with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone, Part I. Get excited. It’s great stuff.

(Oh, and P.S. this is my actual favorite part about the whole thing — each article is gonna have its own subtitle, based on something we said in the articles. Those things are so hilarious, I’ve actually gone through just to read the subtitles and laugh, because they made me remember all the goofy shit we said in the articles. I’m so excited for people to stumble across these things, see the subtitles and go, “What the fuck does that mean?”)

(Oh, also — all the Fun with Franchises articles are going to be catalogued in their own page — Fun with Franchises — and you can go there and check up on which ones we’ve posted and which ones you want to reread and such without the hassle of scrolling through pages and what not. And each day, as an article goes up, I’ll put up a link to it on the page. You’ll always know where we’re at and have a place to find all the stuff. It’s gonna be right at the top of the page at all times, so you’ll be able to find the articles no matter what.)

All right… let’s do this.

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