1 (edited by ireactions 2019-11-19 19:00:51)

Topic: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

Ever since Slider_Quinn21 posted FANTASTIC FOUR: Why did it fail? -- I've thought of that question regarding numerous interesting failures especially when SLIDERS is nothing if not an interesting failure.


I hadn't planned to go see the new TERMINATOR in theatres; I rarely go anywhere. But someone I wish I didn't know who annoys me -- well, I heard them snarking that DARK FATE failed because it had women leading the cast and a Mexican and that it was replacing white men in the key franchise roles and upon hearing that, I sped over to the cineplex, walked into an IMAX screening and came out having really enjoyed it.

Natalia Reyes is a terrific viewpoint character, Mackenzie Davis is an incredible action talent and Linda Hamilton anchors the franchise in the way that Nick Stahl, Christian Bale and Jai Courtney so singularly could not. Except clearly not because the audience is staying far, far away from DARK FATE.

I wonder if RISE OF THE MACHINES, SALVATION and GENISYS have cemented a popular view of TERMINATOR: that it produces incompetent action movies with inept scripting and incoherent plotting with each installment being the first film of a trilogy for which the sequels are never actually made, and only crazy people want to yet again watch the opening act of a story that once again won't be finished (although unlike RISE, SALVATION and GENISYS, DARK FATE does not demand or promise a sequel).

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I think it’s because the formula is tired at this point.  They try to dress it up a little, but it’s really the same thing every time.  I think they would be better served to flip the script and give the opposite angle.

SkyNet had to realize it could lose in its gambit to kill Sarah Connor, so wouldn’t it have an insurance policy?  What if it also sent a contingent of Terminators into the future?  As we know from our own history, we often become complacent and don’t respect the past after a few hundred or a thousand years.  This “sleeper cell” of Terminator infiltrator units could suddenly appear out of their time bubbles; blend into society, and go about the business of resurrecting SkyNet.

That idea would give us a look at something new - where does humanity progress to after defeating the machines?  And with no specific target this time, this could bring Terminator back to its horror roots as we’re left to a guessing game on who is a Terminator.  Lastly, they could still have their near unstoppable nature for a reverse reason this time - the Terminator technology is so antiquated that humanity is too advanced to deal with it.  Similar to how Moore’s Battlestar Galactica presented that the Galactica survived the initial attack because it was still hard wired and off the grid.

That’s what I think the franchise needs.  Go full on sci-fi while also taking us back to the horror roots of the unstoppable monster.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I think it would be interesting to take a page from Daniel Wilson's Robopocalypse series.  If you don't want to be spoiled for that, I'd stop reading here.

In the Robopocalypse books (which I *highly* recommend, despite the hokey title), "Skynet" takes over and attacks mankind.  But "Skynet" is actually doing it to prepare humanity for another, more evil, AI that is much, much worse.  It attacked humanity but in a way that would make humanity stronger and more capable of facing the bigger threat.  It would be interesting if Terminator tried to go in that direction (and there's some sense that maybe Genisys was thinking something like this) where it turns out that Skynet, in a way, sees itself as an ally of humanity.  That the death of Sarah (or John) Connor is worth the safety of mankind as a whole.

The problem with this is...what would that even look like.  It'd obviously be terminators fighting alongside humans....but against better terminators?  So Terminators 2-6.  So maybe not smile  Anyway, go read Robopocalypse


I think the series actually went the most logical way a while back - as a TV show.  I think once you've seen Terminators 1 and 2, anything else would be repetitive.  They tried different terminators, they tried different characters, they tried different timelines, and they tried going into the future.  The Sarah Connor Chronicles took a different approach and did something that movies just don't have time to do - establish character.  Who are these people.  What is a terminator that isn't programmed to kill, and how can it evolve?  And if Skynet sent back enough terminators, would some of them form a third faction that isn't loyal to Skynet or humans?

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

Temporal Flux is absolutely right to say that JUDGEMENT DAY, RISE OF THE MACHINES and GENISYS have all featured humans fleeing a cybernetic assassin who is just barely held off by a reprogrammed robot Arnold Schwarzenegger; SALVATION varied this a bit with Sam Worthington playing the robot(ish) protector. Perhaps DARK FATE, in addition to being the fourth installment in a role to be the first in a trilogy that could be left unfinished, was yet another chased-by-a-robot movie and the audience had seen enough of those. Also, DARK FATE tries to sell itself in ways that GENISYS already attempted to the disappointment of the audience. Maybe they weren't willing to take the chance of being fooled again.

I'd argue that every pre-DARK FATE sequel to JUDGEMENT DAY has suffered from being either inauthentic, incompetent or incomplete or some combination of all three. RISE OF THE MACHINES is, like Season 4 - 5 of SLIDERS, a cheap copy of the original content, in this case JUDGEMENT DAY.

JUDGEMENT DAY had grand and lavish action sequences from James Cameron who has an incredible grasp of geography, motion, location, editing, pacing and timing. It also had a grippingly troubled female protagonist in Linda Hamilton, a hilarious dynamic between the rascaly Edward Furlong and the taciturn Arnold Schwartzenegger.

In contrast, RISE has blandly pedestrian action and a blandly present Claire Danes. RISE also presents a John/Terminator relationship that rings false. Nick Stahl's John is ineffectual and weak, perpetually cowering and overwhelmed by simple acts like breaking and entering that the young John performed with confident ease, and Stahl performs John with a one-note nervousness. He reflects none of Furlong's wit, cunning, rebellion and daring and simply isn't John Connor. And Schwarzenneger is back as the Terminator, but this is a different machine with the same face; this Terminator never bonded with John in T2.

Despite RISE claiming to be the further adventures of John and the Terminator, this isn't the T2 John and this isn't the T2 Terminator. It's inauthentic. The best that can be said of RISE is that it dares to show (a fairly sanitized) rendition of Skynet's victory at the end (even though RISE had alternate footage filmed so that another Terminator would have shown up to defeat Skynet had the studio balked at the ending).

SALVATION is incompetent. The story is nonsensical with Skynet inexplicably augmenting a human, Marcus Wright, with Terminator powers to infiltrate the human resistance despite this human (inevitably) switching sides. John Connor has once again been recast as Christian Bale who exists to run around in various action sequences that don't affect the core plot for Marcus and Kyle Reese. The ending simply resets the movie to the beginning of the situation with Marcus Wright dead and John Connor continuing his leadership of the resistance.

The reason for all this: Connor was supposed to be a mostly off-camera character, but Christian Bale declined the role of Marcus and insisted that he play John and ordered that John have (superfluous) scenes added to the film for him to perform. In addition, the original script had Connor dying and Marcus Wright changing his appearance to look like Connor to maintain the legend of the man, something Bale also had altered. The ending was also changed: the original intention was that Skynet would reveal that it was enslaving humanity to save it from its own destruction, but this was also lost in shifting the film from Marcus to Christian Bale.

THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES is, despite being an excellent TV show, somewhat inauthentic and incompetent. The recasting is actually pretty good with Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker doing a great job of performing new versions of Linda Hamilton and Ed Furlong and the scripts are also splendid. However, CHRONICLES seemed determined to create unresolved plot thread after unresolved plot thread and was dead set on creating a cliffhanger finale for Season 2 that had next to no chance of ever being resolved (and remains unresolved) when a more competent TV show would have crafted the final episode to work as both a season finale and a series finale in the likely event of cancellation.

And GENISYS is completely inauthentic, shockingly incompetent and again incomplete. The original TERMINATOR featured a troubled, war-scarred Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. GENISYS recasts with Jai Courtney and Courtney is a charisma-free vacuum whose performance has no thought, no detail, no effort and no depth. Courtney's Reese is a bland hero; there is nothing of Biehn's rebel soldier, nothing of Biehn's madness or grief or loss or desperation as survivor of a borderline extinction. And then we have Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor except Clarke captures nothing of Linda Hamilton's 80s demeanor in TERMINATOR and also nothing of Hamilton's angry war veteran in JUDGEMENT DAY.

GENISYS claims to be returning to the roots of the original TERMINATOR and yet presents impostors once again. Furthermore, despite showing the original version of Reese being dispatched by John to save Sarah (which is why John meeting Kyle doesn't match the SALVATION depiction), GENISYS doesn't explain where the "Pops" Terminator came from to rewrite the events of the 1984 film. It's presented as a mystery to be explored later, but it comes off as sloppiness. And the film works in revisiting/remaking moments of the 1984 film -- except it then inexplicably has Sarah and Kyle time travel to 2015 on the eve of Skynet being activated. At no point does the movie explain WHY Sarah and Kyle would decide to throw away 31 years to find a way to stop Skynet other than the filmmakers not wanting to continue recreating the 1984 setting -- which also makes the 'mystery' of Pops look less like an ongoing question and more of a plothole -- one that will never be resolved as GENISYS will have no sequels. Inauthentic. Incompetent. Incomplete.

GENISYS sold itself as being a return to the series' roots (by returning to the 1984 movie to choose an alternate path) and advertised itself with James Cameron claiming he loved GENISYS, a claim he'd later withdraw. I suspect that Cameron was thrilled to see GENISYS refilming moments of his 1984 film and was so overwhelmed by these overtures that he only later came to see that outside of these recreations, the surrounding movie featured bland impostors of his creations in a clumsily plotted and unfinished story.

Fairly or unfairly, DARK FATE is part of a franchise that presents unfinished, confusing stories with stand-ins for the real characters.

DARK FATE, like GENISYS, it claims to return to the roots of the series, sidestep the sequels (but only after T2 whereas GENISYS replaced even the original TERMINATOR) and is endorsed by James Cameron once again -- except with GENISYS, all of that turned out to be utter BS. The fact that DARK FATE managed to recapture authenticity, competence and completion doesn't seem to matter because such things can only be appreciated by an audience that sees the actual film and as they'd been burned on three previous occasions, one can understand them not returning for a fourth. That's despite the authenticity being real this time: we have Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor; we have Ed Furlong as John Connor. These aren't recasts; these are the same faces we saw in TERMINATOR and T2.

And DARK FATE is a return to competence. While James Cameron did not direct this movie, I feel he might as well have much in the same way HALLOWEEN 2018 recaptured the style of the 1974 movie despite Carpenter neither filming it nor having final cut. DARK FATE is plainly a movie that Cameron had made on his behalf the way George Lucas directed RETURN OF THE JEDI through Richard Marquand. Despite never going to the set, Cameron managed its scripting and oversaw the editing and DARK FATE captures all of Cameron's strengths while also amending some of his weaknesses.

Where RISE, SALVATION and GENISYS were pedestrian in their action, Cameron's gift for pacing, shot sequencing, motion and geography are plainly present in Tim Miller's direction. DARK FATE is a relentless chase movie akin to a Season 2 episode of SLIDERS and Miller and Cameron ensure that each action sequence presents a new variation: a terrifying car chase, a battle in an auto factory, a battle within a crashing airplane, an underwater escape -- each sequence presenting a different form of physicality.

Also, Tim Miller infuses DARK FATE with a beautiful feminine energy. Mackenzie Davis' Grace can be unstoppable and indomitable, but she conveys the pain and shock of each blow and how near collapse she is as she performs another astonishing feat. There's a tenderness and tactile sense of identity to Grace in contrast to Schwarzenegger's implacable brutalism. And also, DARK FATE is complete. It doesn't end demanding a sequel, instead ending on a closing note that indicates that should there be a sequel, there'll be a great one, but if there isn't, the adventure continues. It's what SARAH CONNOR's finale so singularly wasn't.

It's a shame that GENISYS was made; had DARK FATE come in its place, it'd have been the first sequel to declare itself a return to authenticity, and had DARK FATE been on track to earn the same $440 million that GENISYS made, it would have been considered an adequate success. And looking at DARK FATE's sister movie, HALLOWEEN 2018 was also a 'deboot' that had the original leading lady reprising her role as a lead character -- except HALLOWEEN 2018 was a return to the original film's roots as a low budget indie movie made for 10 million dollars and earning 255 million at box office.

In contrast, DARK FATE is not a return to TERMINATOR (1984) being made for 6.4 million but instead yet another attempt at T2's blockbuster earnings with a blockbuster budget. Admittedly, a 12 million dollar version of DARK FATE would not have Linda Hamilton or Arnold Schwarzenagger and likely not have the computer generated deaging effects to recreate a young Linda Hamilton and Ed Furlong as Sarah and John, so maybe DARK FATE just came too late. It should have come out in 2015 before GENISYS poisoned the idea of going back to the original well.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I think that's a wonderful walk through the Terminator lore.  I don't have anything to add, but I thought that was well written.

I'm seeing Dark Fate tonight.  I've already had a little of it spoiled for me, but I'm not terribly worried about that.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I saw it.  SPOILERS ahead so stop reading now if you don't want it spoiled.


I liked it quite a bit.  I like, like some action movies, it dragged on a bit.  There's a part in every movie like this - with an unstoppable killing machine hunting you - where you can't have slow character moments anymore and it's just a fight to the death.  This applies to a lot of horror films - you can't exactly argue with Michael Myers - and it applies to Terminators as well.  And I thought that section of the movie was much too long.  Especially the part in and around the dam.  I even thought the part on the plan was just a big overkill.  I think they should've escaped from the warehouse with the EMP to the military base.  The terminator could've wrecked the military while the heroes were setting up the kill box.  It would've saved 10 minutes of insanity and still been plenty of action.

I liked how the franchise upgraded itself.  They won.  John died.  Skynet lost.  Something took it's place.  I read something that James Cameron said about a potential Dark Fate 2, and I think this is essentially going to be his theme.  That as long as we are headed towards an AI, whether it be military or commercial or whatever - there's a chance that it turns on us and leads to a Judgment Day.  So I think, if they do more, they'll explore the idea that we have to find peace with the AI before we create it.  Or something.  I don't know.

So I thought the setup was creative.  I didn't like that they killed John.  I understand why they did it, but I would've preferred if they went a different route.  Maybe John and Sarah had a falling out, and she can't give up the fight.  As a fan of Terminator 2, it bothered me to see Edward Furlong's John gunned down.  Just like I didn't like that Sarah was killed offscreen in Rise of the Machines.  But it made the Carl stuff work, and again, I get why they didn't do it.  They would've had to recast John since Edward Furlong doesn't seem like the John Connor type anymore, and I guess this works better.

I could also feel Josh Friedman's fingerprints on this.  The whole Carl thing did feel very Sarah Connor Chronicles and I liked that.  I liked Carl as a character and his motivation once his mission was complete.

I did wonder if Sarah's motivations should've been different, though.  This is a world where she's "terminated" because John died - tortured by the fact that she's forgetting him.  In that scene, I was thinking "that sucks - his death is locked into the timeline."

But it's not.  This is a universe where time travel exists.  Why wouldn't Sarah give herself purpose by trying to go back in time to save John?  Fix that one little mistake that got her son killed?  I'm not saying that should've been the movie - but I think that should've been her motivation.  Heck, maybe it should've been Carl's motivation.  Instead of sending coordinates to time displacement events, maybe Carl should've been sending Sarah blueprints to make herself a time machine.

So instead of this war-ravaged Sarah in a continuation of Terminator 2, you get another evolution of Sarah who's dedicated her life to science and building this machine to save her son's life.  It isn't about the 3 billion people she saved - it's about saving the one she lost.  Then Carl finds out about Dani and decides to give Sarah a different purpose.  The movie continues as is, and Sarah decides to let John be gone and face this new threat.

But as for the movie itself, I think it worked well.  I thought several of the scenes worked - I liked Grace as a character and the looks into her backstory.  I liked Dani as a rougher Sarah Connor from the first movie.  I thought there were some genuinely suspenseful scenes - I remember being on the edge of my seat in the chaos of the Border Patrol station, knowing that the terminator could be anywhere in the chaos and wondering how the heroes would get away.  Once they got into the kill box, I liked the finale.


About the woke stuff.  Nothing in this movie bothered me.  Three female leads, three male leads, it doesn't bother me.  Give me good characters, and it's fine.  They explained why Grace could fight a terminator hand to hand, and that was enough for me.  She was a certifiable badass and a great lead hero.  Linda Hamilton was great.  Again, I liked Dani.  At no point was I worried that there weren't enough dudes.

That being said, I think sometimes these movies go too far.  Instead of an all-female ghostbusters, they could've just had it be 3 women and a man.  Or two women and two men but the women are the leads (just like Murray and Ackroyd are the leads of the original and the other two are less prominent).  I think there's this modern way of thinking that we just need to go all the way, and I think the most permanent social change comes from slow steps.  And I think any of these "woke" movies that fail, I think people are just resistant to too much change at one time.

I think people see something like John dying in the first five minutes as a woke statement.  "F MEN" the movie is yelling at them. "THE FUTURE IS FEMALE" - And I think you could've easily made a movie where you make huge leaps for female action stars and don't appear like you're rubbing it in people's faces to some people.  Maybe you make Dani Ramos into Danny Ramos.  And you have these kickass women trying to protect this scared young man.  And Sarah spends the movie thinking that this Danny guy is going to be the next John Connor.  But maybe he's just the father of the future leader of the resistance - his daughter.  Do a spin on the whole idea in the original of Danny and Grace giving birth to the future.

And maybe you're saying "f*ck that - we shouldn't give any credence to the 'Get Woke, Go Broke' crowd" and I think that's fair.  But what sucks is that we have a legitimately good terminator film that has some badass women, and it's going to bomb.  Just like Ghostbusters 2015 failed.  Just like Ocean's 8 probably isn't getting a sequel.  If you go from "all-female" to "female-led" I think it's the small step but a permanent step.  You can still have your badass female leads.  You can still have your Latina savior.  But if you sprinkle enough "traditional stuff" into the equation, then there's a decent chance no one will notice.  Look at Mad Max: Fury Road.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I am not a huge fan of TERMINATOR or James Cameron, but after Informant -- I mean, after some random dude with whom I have no prior association whatsoever declared DARK FATE to be a failure because it was political under the "get woke go broke" hashtag -- well, I quantum-leapt to the cineplex to see it. Anything that pisses off this person -- whom I absolutely do not know in any way, shape or form -- I absolutely have to see. :-D


I am not a huge fan of TERMINATOR or James Cameron, but I see the talent and craft even if the final product doesn't serve my personal obsessions. DARK FATE is a chase movie and Cameron/Tim Miller designed it to create characterization and relationships in shorthand and on the go.

We don't get a conversation where Grace and Dani share their values; we get a shot of Dani resting her head on Grace's lap. We don't get an arc where Dani shows her leadership skills; we get a quick moment of Dani shepherding her brother to work and protesting his replacement by a robot.

We don't see Sarah Connor staggering through life with alcoholism; we get Linda Hamilton wordlessly conveying that she exists to blow up robots and sleep before doing it again. Cameron's approach doesn't rely on dialogue or even necessarily action and decision to convey character; he depends on actors to sell you on it while often putting them in highly reactive roles as they deal with their ship hitting an iceberg or their being hunted by an AI.

In the original TERMINATOR, Kyle Reese is defined less by the script and more by the performance that Cameron and Michael Biehn produced: the performance wordlessly conveys to you that Reese is a starving soldier who has long lived without any kind of comfort or luxury, who is terrified of the Terminator and Skynet, who is traumatized by war and barely holding it together to perform his mission -- which is why Jai Courtney's blandly heroic performance was so offensive to fans. Courtney made Reese so confident, so at ease, so certain whereas Biehn's Kyle Reese was fundamentally broken but not letting it stop him from doing his job.

I am not a huge fan of this approach, but it is a perfectly valid approach.


To be honest, I felt about Legion the way Slider_Quinn21 feels about the First Order and the Empire in STAR WARS; it's a re-branding. However, as someone who admires the first TERMINATOR (without enjoying it) and both admires AND enjoys TERMINATOR 2, I didn't feel DARK FATE besmirched John Connor or Edward Furlong. The amount of effort taken to put Furlong in DARK FATE was insane with Cameron reporting that most of the de-aged footage was unusably poor.

Ultimately, DARK FATE asserts that John succeeded; he stopped Skynet and it didn't come back, but other people kept creating AIs and one of them would inevitably turn against their creators. And DARK FATE declares that the future is always dark and that our heroes will forever have to delay, forestall and prevent it; they will keep pushing it backwards forever and ever. So I felt okay with that -- but narratively, Legion and Skynet are really about the same and I didn't think DARK FATE differentiated the two sufficiently.

I think that DARK FATE needed to present Legion as a more seductive or manipulative form of evil; rather than blowing up humanity, it creates situations to make them turn on each other. We see a bit of this, but as Temporal Flux points out, DARK FATE is ultimately following the T2 formula of a killer robot chasing down humans.


I like all of Slider_Quinn21's ideas. That maybe Sarah could have been trying to change the past and save John from the Terminator. That maybe Dani could have been Danny to add a man to the mix since Arnold Schwarzenneger is barely in this movie. I think Cameron/Tim Miller just wanted to do a really intense chase movie without a lot of sentiment or conversation, largely driven by a distinctly feminine energy that's in contrast to RISE, SALVATION and GENISYS being driven by men. And they succeeded creatively and have crashed and burned financially.

I kind of feel the length thing, but... I just really enjoyed watching Mackenzie Davis beat people up. It's my thing. I also enjoy watching Sarah Michelle Gellar, Summer Glau, Ashley Scott, Ruby Rose, Melanie Scrofano, Jaimie Alexander, Brie Larson, Carrie Anne Moss, Lena Headey and Linda Hamilton beat people up. I think I enjoy that more than I enjoy watching or reading Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo snarking at each other.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

Oh, I forgot one of my other ideas.  I think it could've been cheesy so maybe I would've deleted it from an eventual final draft.  But I think it would've been interesting if Carl had reached out to other Terminators who were sent back and no longer had a purpose.  It might've been kinda fun to have a collection of terminators (not necessarily just ones played by Arnold) both working as spies and perhaps coming to help.

Maybe it wouldn't have worked because I think the finale worked fine the way it was.  But it might've been fun.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

Comic book businessman Rob Liefeld (terrible writer, awful artist, excellent salesman, in his 50s) had an interesting tweet; he said that he never showed his sons the TERMINATOR movies and he thinks TERMINATOR failed because the franchise's height was in 1991 and that the franchise is only meaningful to people his age.

Well, after T2, TERMINATOR was then absent from the cinema for 12 years before returning in 2003 with RISE, 2009 with SALVATION, 2015 with GENISYS -- and because there was an 12 year gap and then 12 years of forgettable films, families didn't pass TERMINATOR onto their children. Even SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, an admittedly unforgettable story, is best forgotten because it has no ending. Anyone who saw T2 in theatres in 1991 without sneaking into a screening is now at least 46 years old.

And TERMINATOR and T2 maybe haven't enjoyed a continued, rising audience in home viewing because the pedestrian RISE OF THE MACHINES and incoherent SALVATION and clumsy GENISYS have made the series a bad memory which meant DARK FATE was trying to capitalize on nostalgia that had been systematically destroyed. I wonder if TERMINATOR fans don't even really want to revisit TERMINATOR; outside of a wish to conclude SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, the feeling is that TERMINATOR is best seen as having ended with T2 and then left alone both by the creators and the viewers.

HALLOWEEN 2018 was in a similar situation, but HALLOWEEN 2018 only cost $10 million to make. Even if you adored SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, DARK FATE wasn't going to acknowledge it, so DARK FATE was aiming itself at an audience that didn't exist in sufficient numbers to justify a 145 million budget that needs to earn 450 million to break even. One might as well spend $145 million on producing SLIDERS REBORN for an audience of 23 people.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

It's also interesting to look at what happened behind the scenes of T3, SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, T4 and T5.

With T3, there was no creative drive to make a third film, just a desire to cash in on the success of T2 with a new PG-13 product. The screenwriter of T3 and T4 has actually blogged about the process: despite T3 being a heartless money grab to exploit T2, the writer didn't even *like* the second TERMINATOR movie and deliberately wrote T3 to annoy the studio by presenting John Connor as a wealthy Silicon Valley supervillain now seeking to make money off a Skynet takeover. Naturally, the studio balked and the writer grudgingly stripped out his more offensive elements until what was left was an empty retread of T2.

There's a troubling attitude in franchise fandom that only certain creators can handle a franchise correctly whether it's Gene Roddenberry for STAR TREK or James Cameron for TERMINATOR. I think the more nuanced truth is that film and TV are in the business of selling tickets and ads with the content being a secondary concern, but the creators producing the content need to devote themselves to serving the content by identifying the story they want to tell and telling that story with commitment and craft. T3 was made entirely to serve a balance sheet.

With T3, the studio and the writers were completely uncommitted to telling any particular story with a third TERMINATOR; they just wanted to be paid for having brought one into being. Which is why THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES disproves the idea that only specific individuals can handle the TERMINATOR franchise: CHRONICLES didn't have James Cameron or Arnold or Linda Hamilton or Edward Furlong -- but it had Josh Friedman's complete devotion to telling his story. The dialogue was punchy and sharp; the action was gripping and had a human cost. Cameron was a fascinating Terminator whose Summer Glau appeal and loyalty to John masked a shocking inhumanity as she casually abandoned civilians to die if they weren't relevant to keeping John safe.

However, Friedman's devotion to telling his story was often in foolish defiance of ratings and format. CHRONICLES was hit by a writer's strike that cut the first season short, losing viewership. Friedman's second season was so alienating to new viewers that it couldn't grow its audience and was cancelled on the 13th episode -- only for Warner Bros. to save it by lowering their license fee. Friedman received nine more episodes, almost certainly the last nine of the series -- and his devotion to telling his story had him decide to end the show on a cliffhanger.

Which I think speaks to another part of putting out a good product: in addition to being committed to executing the chosen story well, there needs to be some thought to the audience that will be watching this material. Josh Friedman served his story, but he didn't serve his fans.

SALVATION is similar and different to T3: it actually had a story, but it backed away from telling it. The original plot of SALVATION: during the Skynet-human war, a human-Terminator hybrid named Marcus tries to help the human resistance by searching for and saving John Connor from a Skynet plot. Connor is a largely offscreen character and the story establishes him as a rising legend who inspires humanity to resist. When Marcus finds him, he fails to save him -- but a dying Connor begs Marcus to carry on for him. Marcus alters his face to look like John Connor and to assume his role in the resistance.

The script was pretty solid -- and then the creators asked Christian Bale to play Marcus and Bale refused and said he wanted to play John Connor and that he wanted more screentime and that he wanted his character to live. SALVATION was changed to meet these stipulations and the result was a pointless movie that didn't move the TERMINATOR story in any particular direction and featured a lead character in Bale's Connor who had no impact on the plot. SALVATION served Christian Bale instead of SALVATION.

Much of the drama regarding T3 and T4 is detailed in the writer's blog: https://johnbrancato.blogspot.com/2009/ … horse.html

And then GENISYS (2015). Setting aside the poor casting, I'd say the greatest problem of GENISYS is that it is designed all around time travelling back to the original 1984 movie and then changing the situation. It's a rebootquel and STAR TREK (2008) made it clear how this can work. However, at the midpoint, the action abruptly jumps from 1984 to 2017 and it makes no sense. In 1984, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese have over three decades to work out Skynet's plan and stop it; in 2017, they have days. This nonsensical decision is inexplicable.

The reason this happened: it's pretty clear that even as GENISYS was being scripted, the studio and director and producers were unwilling to present a 2015 movie that was set in 1984. They didn't want to do a period piece. They didn't want to go to all the time and trouble and expense of maintaining the aesthetics and technology of 1984, so for simplicity of production, they detached themselves from serving the story they had in their hands.

DARK FATE is... certainly not the innovative, inventive cinematic event of T2 in 1991. It doesn't have anything all that new; it's not a visionary work. But it does care about the fans with the painstaking effects work to bring a 1992 era Linda Hamilton and Ed Furlong to the screen for a scene and giving a senior citizen incarnation of Hamilton a leading role. And it is absolutely committed to serving its chosen purpose as a female-driven chase movie.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I found a neat fanfic -- a virtual third season of SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES written in screenplay format.
http://tib.cjcs.com/terminator-the-conn … c-project/

I'm only on the fifth script and I'm depending on somewhat vague memories of the TV show, but these seem very solid, capturing both the screenplay format, the militaristic and somewhat defeatist tone of the TV show and the optimism of the characters within it. It's a very plausible rendition of a TV budgeted screenplay.

That said, despite maintaining the format of Sarah Connor's ruminations in voiceover and the troubled tone of the future resistance, there's a slight lack of emotion. By that, I mean I'm on the fifth script and John and Sarah only grieve for losing each other in brief moments. That's sort of the point; they have no time to really stop and process. But it's a little dissatisfying. I can't speak to whether or not this is a good pastiche because I haven't rewatched CHRONICLES, but it's working for me right now.

I'm also impressed with the writer's portrayal of Allison from Palmdale; Cameron is gone, but Summer Glau appears in every episode and the scripts have notes of Cameron except the writer shows how Cameron was in many ways a machine approximation of tiny facets of a much more complicated woman.

Admittedly, the SARAH CONNOR I would have preferred would have been a proper ending to Season 2 with a rewritten "Born to Run" where Catherine Weaver's entire plot is explained along with that three dots stuff, Cameron dies, Derek dies, Sarah sends John into a time bubble to escape certain death -- and he ends up seemingly alone only to be reunited with Derek, Kyle Reese and Allison Young, and John proves able to handle himself in the Skynet war thanks to Sarah's training, meaning that John is where he belongs and will be fine -- an ending that allowed the show to close out but still allowed for Season 3 should the Sci-Fi Channel have saved the show for two more years.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I've edited this thread title into being about Interesting Failures™ in general. And one interesting failure I saw in theatres recently (!!): CHARLIE's ANGELS. As you all know, I love powerful women; I love watching women fight crime. And I love director Elizabeth Banks (PITCH PERFECT II) and I think one of the greatest things I've ever seen was PITCH PERFECT III (not directed by Banks) where Rebel Wilson beats up a yacht full of thugs and then blows up the boat and jumps off it yelling. I adored Melissa McCarthy's SPY and Mila Kunis' THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME, I'd enjoyed DARK FATE and was up for another female-driven action film, so CHARLIE'S ANGELS (2019) should have been my everything.

As with TITANS, I just don't get what this movie is trying to do. If the movie is about three women with conflicting personalities trying to work together as a team in the face of deadly threat, why are the relationships so totally irrelevant to the spy missions where they almost immediately split up every time? If the movie is about Sabina (Kristen Stewart) being a hypercapable lady spy, why is she presented as distractably ineffectual to the point of repeatedly losing her target, losing the villain, losing her gadgets and losing her fights?

(Spy movies often have to work hard to make their hero seem competent while letting the villain's plot progress until the end of the film, but CHARLIE'S ANGELS doesn't try to finesse or counterbalance Sabina's defeats nor does it seem aware of how Sabina is inexplicably lauded for spy skills she doesn't demonstrate.)

If Sabina barely knows her boxing bruiser teammate, Jane, to the point where Sabina has to ask her for her name, then why Sabina later dissolve into tears over Jane as though they have a long-standing friendship?

If it's about female tech engineer Elena falling ass-backwards into the world of espionage, why is Elena so inconsequential to the spy missions except as someone who gets captured and has to be rescued? If it's about women in action sequences, why are the action sequences a rhythmically challenged series of posed shots with no sense of danger, physicality, impact or risk? Seriously, no punches seem to land, there are car chases where you can't tell how close or far apart the vehicles are and action that looks adequate on LEGENDS OF TOMORROW looks bare on a giant theatre screen.

If Jane and Sabina are trying to rescue Elena, why does Jane suddenly split from the rescue effort to spend time fighting a henchman who is not between the Angels and Elena? In fact, why is it that every time the Angels set out to retrieve some MacGuffin, they forget about the MacGuffin in favour of fighting henchmen and wasting time?

If it's a comedy, why are there scenes where the Angels accidentally kill people in the most gruesome manner possible before skipping ahead to a joking scene? If it's a movie about strong women, why does one bizarre scene have Patrick Stewart beating actress Elizabeth Banks in a fight? Patrick Stewart is 79 years old and walks like it takes mental effort to put one foot in front of the other and Elizabeth Banks looks like she should be teaching me how to work out.

I have never been more sympathetic to a film than I am with CHARLIE'S ANGELS, a movie that declares women can do anything and that men are foolish to never take them seriously. I have never been more dismayed at how a movie I agree with in principle is strangely devoid of ability in character arcs, physical action, motion, pacing, blocking, geography or maintaining character motivations in fight scenes.

There is one scene that really comes alive -- when Sabina and Jane join a dance party to infiltrate a secret base. This sequence has all the momentum and physicality that the fight scenes don't and I'm terrified to say that Elizabeth Banks can direct dancing and conversation but can't direct action because it might come off as me saying that about all women. Dear God. Lexi Alexander directed my favourite episodes of SUPERGIRL. Rachel Talalay directed all my favourite DOCTOR WHO action episodes.

The best I can say is that (a) I saw the movie for free because the projector blew on the Friday I first tired to see it and I got two free passes and (b) Elizabeth Banks declared on Twitter that if CHARLIE'S ANGELS were a bomb, at last her name was on it four times over (as an actor, producer, writer and director). She is a force to be reckoned with and I wish I liked her movie as much as I like her.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I think letting Banks write the script was a mistake.  She's never written a produced screenplay before.  Better to get some experienced writers and let her build up her writing skills on lower profile projects.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

Ensembles are difficult to write and I have a great deal of sympathy for Elizabeth Banks. The Angels are on covert missions and separate paths, yet they're supposed to be a team. SLIDERS had the same problem and would handle it by splitting the quartet into duos and mix up the pairings.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS, like SLIDERS, has four characters (Sabina, Jane, Elena and Bosley) but neglects to do this. The four are only together during hurried briefing scenes. During missions, they have earpieces, but they just shout situation updates without banter. The movie has them largely separated and the only pairing is a very, very, very short sequence with Sabina and June dancing.

I'm not a wholehearted fan of "Double Cross," but in that episode, the sliders repeatedly fail to stop Logan until the end. To avoid making the sliders seem incompetent, veteran screenwriters Tony Blake and Paul Jackson have the sliders win small victories without defeating Logan: the Professor identifies Wade's impostor, Quinn bargains for Wade's release, the Professor survives near incineration -- even as Logan is gaining control of sliding and encountering little meaningful resistance to her plans for multiversal domination. Then the ending has Quinn leaving Logan lost in the interdimension. The villain keeps winning for most of the story, but the heroes keep surviving increasingly levels of deadly threat to win at the end.

In contrast, CHARLIE'S ANGELS never has the Angels in much danger of anything and never shows them using cleverness or teamwork to survive. When their MacGuffin is lost or when their mark escapes, the Angels don't have any achievements to balance their losses and they seem like failures.

Writing action oriented ensembles requires craft and skill and I say that as someone who ran face-first into all of these problems when attempting SLIDERS scripts. Thankfully, Transmodiar and Slider_Quinn21 were available to walk me through how to address these problems. Transmodiar cautioned against having the sliders separated for too long and said that if one slider were alone, the other three should be together. Slider_Quinn21 helped revise scenes so that the sliders were conversing over Bluetooth so they would feel like they were together even if they were physically separate. Maybe they should have revised the new CHARLIE'S ANGELS.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

ireactions wrote:

I'm not a wholehearted fan of "Double Cross,"

You shut your mouth.

ireactions wrote:

Writing action oriented ensembles requires craft and skill and I say that as someone who ran face-first into all of these problems when attempting SLIDERS scripts. Thankfully, Transmodiar and Slider_Quinn21 were available to walk me through how to address these problems. Transmodiar cautioned against having the sliders separated for too long and said that if one slider were alone, the other three should be together.

Action also requires escalation of stakes and being able to interpret it. If it's smash cuts of people screaming at each other, when they aren't even in the same physical space, there's no tension. Beatdowns are pointless. You can do much more by making a scene urgent and having characters you give a shit about.

That's why "Double Cross" works - the action is personal, the stakes are high, and the need to reconnect is urgent. Then you temper that with interactions between Logan and Quinn where they're just vibing together, watching the city. Screenwriting 102.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

Transmodiar wrote:
ireactions wrote:

I'm not a wholehearted fan of "Double Cross"

You shut your mouth.

I'm not a wholehearted fan of the episode "Double Cross" because it was filmed in Los Angeles and I will have a base level of distaste for any episode of SLIDERS filmed in Los Angeles. The script is very good.

Transmodiar wrote:

Action also requires escalation of stakes and being able to interpret it. If it's smash cuts of people screaming at each other, when they aren't even in the same physical space, there's no tension. Beatdowns are pointless. You can do much more by making a scene urgent and having characters you give a shit about. That's why "Double Cross" works - the action is personal, the stakes are high, and the need to reconnect is urgent. Then you temper that with interactions between Logan and Quinn where they're just vibing together, watching the city. Screenwriting 102.


I don't know if this is Marketing 102 or even 101, but the trailers for CHARLIE'S ANGELS were awful; generic shots of action and the Angels in their finery and a very strange song with the lyrics "Don't call me angel" as though a CHARLIE'S ANGELS movie was ashamed of Charlie's Angels as featured in CHARLIE'S ANGELS. And after watching the movie, I felt the trailers were awful because the movie had so very, very little interaction between the Angels. The trailers had no shots of Elena the newbie Angel reacting with terror to Sabina and Jane's hijinks, no clips of Jane the pugilist and Sabina the seductress arguing about tactics, no lines from Bosley describing insane stakes as the Angels react, no brief displays of the relationships -- because there weren't any in the movie and the trailers had nothing to sell the film on aside from women and underchoreographed fights.

The other thing that's unfortunate is that angels are not always rendered as beneficent, gentle creatures but savagely dangerous warriors, but CHARLIE'S ANGELS maintains the view that an Angel's primary gift is baiting men with their bodies because men are god-damn stupid (which they are).

... like I said, this movie should have been my everything. Oh well. Hopefully, the next Sunday of BATWOMAN and SUPERGIRL will be good.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

One of my favourite books as a high school student was STARGIRL, about a manic pixie dream girl who calls herself Stargirl, and Leo, the boy who falls in love with her but wishes for her to be more 'normal' which leads to Stargirl dumping him and leaving town. As I get older, I am suspicious of manic pixie dream girls who exist as salves to male egos rather than women with their own goals and inner lives, but Stargirl did have her own goals and inner life and left town and Leo to pursue both. There was a recent movie adaptation and I found it an interesting failure.

I watched it on Disney+. And I enjoyed it. Stargirl was embodied beautifully by singer Grace Vanderwaal, playing Stargirl as a teenaged girl who does not grasp the hierarchy and social structures of high school and is determined to ignore them in the most pleasant manner possible. Vanderwaal's Stargirl is full of enthusiasm and liveliness and creativity and fun and she falls for the male lead, Leo, at which point the movie seems to fall apart.

Leo in STARGIRL is a bland, inoffensive, indistinct, innocuous teenaged boy. The movie fails to explain why Stargirl would be attracted to Leo, what he has to offer her when he's not as much fun and not her equal in any area and Stargirl provides all the ideas and labour and Leo is simply present. Why would she like him?

I went back to the original novel and discovered that Leo is just as indistinct and undefined in the novel. But it works in prose because STARGIRL is a novel written in first person. Leo is the narrator. Leo is a blank template upon which a high school boy could project his own personality. Why does Stargirl like Leo in the book? It's unclear and that's deliberate; it forces the hypothetical male reader to become Leo in reading the book and the reader has to ask himself why Stargirl would like him and what he himself would have to offer such a vibrant person. STARGIRL as a movie, however, can only offer a third person perspective and Leo is an empty persona. This largely faithful film adaptation fails to amend Leo from the novel to be suited to the very different format of film.

I think Leo needed to be someone who could bring some technical skills to Stargirl's various social stunts. Someone who could take her more eccentric and bizarre ideas and make them practically achievable. There's a sequence where Stargirl buys and repairs a bicycle for a boy who crashed his bike; in the movie, Leo should have helped her take off the rust and patch the tires while Stargirl would repaint it. Instead, in the movie, as in the book, Stargirl does all the work and Leo doesn't offer anything. Live action is not prose.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

One of my favourite comic books -- and one of my favourite interesting failures -- is SPIDER-WOMAN by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev. Spider-Woman, real name Jessica Drew, is an interesting failure of a character in general. She wasn't created because Marvel Comics and Stan Lee had a great idea for the character; they just wanted to seize the Spider-Woman copyright before someone else got to it. Writers Stan Lee, Archie Goodwin, Marv Wolfman and artist Marie Severin are all brilliant and yet nobody had a coherent idea of who the hell this character was supposed to be and it shows. The SPIDER-WOMAN comic provides three contradictory origins: she's initially a spider who evolves into a human but then later writers declared she was a human who had the memories of a spider implanted into her and then later writers said she was a genetically engineered soldier with accelerated aging. Jessica Drew's backstory is more convoluted than Quinn Mallory's.

Jessica Drew's big claim to fame is in terms of her absence. The JESSICA JONES Netflix series is based on Brian Michael Bendis' comic, ALIAS, also featuring private detective Jessica Jones. Originally, ALIAS was to feature Jessica Drew, retired as Spider-Woman and having changed careers. Bendis eventually decided to create an original character as Spider-Woman's continuity was an unfathomable mess. But he still had a fondness for SPIDER-WOMAN and would later explain the in-depth reason for that: he really liked Jessica Drew's hair.

Bendis featured Spider-Woman in his AVENGERS comics only to shockingly reveal about three years that Spider-Woman had been an impostor in his entire run, replaced by an alien shapeshifter as part of their Secret Invasion plot to take over Earth. The real Spider-Woman returned after the invasion was prevented, and Bendis later wrote two SPIDER-WOMAN serieses: a short series called ORIGIN which provided a new version of her origin that picked and chose from the contradictory versions before, and a new SPIDER-WOMAN title that for convoluted reasons shipped nine months late, lasted seven issues and was then promptly cancelled for low sales and the creators being unable to continue.

The reasons why are fascinating: despite the real Spider-Woman returning as of December 2008, her comic following up on her return didn't come out until September 2009. The reason: Marvel chose the SPIDER-WOMAN comic to be a motion comic feature with voiceover and limited, comic book panelesque animation. This meant that the creators had to write the comic and draw it with the intention that all the dialogue be performed by an actress and fit within the animation.

In addition, the motion comic format required that artist Alex Maleev draw the same pages and often the same panels and faces repeated The print version of the comic saw Maleev repeatedly reusing slightly altered versions of the same drawings of Spider-Woman to make up the pages, a necessity of animation that looked oddly lazy in print. The schedule saw Maleev utterly burnt out after seven issues, unable to spend any more time and energy drawing the same pages 12 times each.

Due to the nine month wait between Spider-Woman's return in SECRET INVASION and her own series, sales were poor and made even worse because Marvel had released the motion comic and cannibalized their own sales. What should have been a blockbuster hit for the character was a small success on iTunes (for $10 USD for all five episodes) and a sales misfire in print. The motion comic itself didn't even really have much motion; despite Alex Maleev's strain and stress and tedium, the panels were static with certain cutouts moving slightly. It was visually uninspiring on a computer screen; it was suspiciously repetitive in print with entire pages consisting of a single drawing of Spider-Woman at different magnifications or with minor changes.

And yet... when I'm reading the SPIDER-WOMAN comic by Bendis and Maleev, I find myself so caught up in the story that I simply accept all the reused panels. The story is compelling: Jessica Drew, perenially a D-list superhero made noteworthy only because Spider-Man is an A-list character, is struggling with the aftermath of SECRET INVASION. Her alien impostor was the Skrull queen, the leader of the invasion. Every person who sees Spider-Woman sees the Skrull who stole her life. In addition, Spider-Woman is in agony over knowing that the Skrull queen took Jessica from being someone who was losing control of her powers and unable to function as a superhero to becoming a valuable agent of SHIELD, an Avenger chosen by Captain America and a hero who was respected by both the Pro and Anti-Registration sides of the CIVIL WAR conflict. Jessica's impostor was better at being Jessica and Spider-Woman than the genuine article.

Recruited to work for SWORD, the branch of SHIELD that deals with alien threats, Spider-Woman hunts down the last remnants of the Skrull factions that brought about the Secret Invasion, wanting to know: why did they choose her life to steal? Why did the Skrull leader take her identity? Despite Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), Wolverine, Luke Cage, Captain America and all her friends in the Avengers offering her aid, Jessica avoids them; they were friends with the Skrull and not with her. In the seven and final issue of SPIDER-WOMAN, Jessica fianlly confronts one of the central planners of the alien invasion, Koru Kaviti. He beats her senseless and tells her:

You came here to blame me for all your woes. You blame me for your life's journey. Do you want to know why our queen chose your form? Do you want to know why she knew she could replace you?

The reason we knew you could be switched for one of us is that of all the people in the world, we discovered that NO ONE on this ENTIRE PLANET cares enough about you to notice you at all.

And of all the things that went wrong with our invasion, that was the one thing we were ABSOLUTELY right about.

But before he can finish her off, an Avengers jet flies into the scene and the Avengers descend to Spider-Woman's aid, with Carol Danvers quipping in a surprisingly Brie Larson-esque way, "Well, it looks like you were wrong about everything then."

The story really works. The format did not work. The release date did not work. The art, despite Maleev's beautiful use of shadow and line weight and composition, seems to have fallen flat with the readers. But there is something really neat about Bendis taking Jessica Drew's D-list status and having her work through it and there's a really interesting choice where, even though Spider-Woman does take the Skrull down, the moment is not her victory but in her friends proving that they actually do like her and showing up for her and assuring her that her impostor only capitalized upon what Jessica had the potential to be all along. And I shamelessly rip off Bendis' SPIDER-WOMAN climax in pretty much everything I've ever written.

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

I recently saw an interesting failure: Season 8 of CASTLE.

ireactions wrote:

CASTLE was a taut, capable, well-paced, focused series about the belligerent sexual tension between Fillion and Katic and novelist Richard Castle had some actual (if delusional) insight and flashes of brilliance to offer murder mysteries.

Transmodiar wrote:


ireactions wrote:

I've only seen the first season of CASTLE. I'm going to assume from Transmodiar's reaction that CASTLE suffers from behind the scenes issues that causes the show to lose its clear, focused sense of purpose which is to have Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic onscreen arguing and the murder mysteries being incidental if not irrelevant. They could be restaurant chefs.

Transmodiar wrote:

I didn't make it to the end. But you don't have to watch past season one to know the show doesn't give two squirts about timing, pacing, or focus. It hopes you like Nathan Fillion or Stana Katic; everything else is incidental.

If you keep watching, just skip over every scene with Castle's daughter or mother. With the exception of the contractually obligated A-story episode they get each season, they add literally nothing to the series. Nada. Bupkus. ZERO.

And if you make it past the episode where the sidekicks get caught in a burning building, I'll buy you a soda. smile

Transmodiar wrote:

"Castle" failed (for many, many seasons?) because it very rarely hinged on its own premise. The conceit was a Patterson-esque crime novelist worms his way into working with real detectives as inspiration for a new protagonist. To do so, he has to juggle his life as a father, son, celebrity, and love interest for his new partner. The murder-of-the-week stuff should inform those relationships.

For the first season or two, it hewed closely to those tropes. But Castle's daughter was too evolved a character to be a 15-year-old girl; it was impossible to suspend disbelief. It's also the continuation of an exasperating trend in media to make dads just insufferable with their ignorance; I get that its comic to watch the kid parent the parent at times, but Castle himself dotes all over his daughter. He's not an absentee by any stretch (I think the mom left early on? Been a while.).

Then you throw in the weird subplots with the precinct captain, the bro-tastic adventures of the two junior detectives on the squad, and other nonsense and it just becomes hyperbolic. It's even worse when the show's tone veers off course and tries to do edgy, dark topics like the serial killer and who killed Stana Katic's mom. You see the same thing in the recent "iZombie," which went FAR up its own ass in the last couple of seasons. Just keep it light-hearted, let the leads have will-they, won't-they? chemistry, and keep in mind that the whole reason Castle is there is to grind out storylines for his books. That's what they were trying to accomplish. And they dropped the ball, and it got agonizing.

Amazon Prime had Seasons 1 - 7 of CASTLE and I watched them and it was a very fine show. Nathan Fillion (Castle) and Stana Katic (Detective Kate Beckett) had a hilariously antagonistic relationship of Castle acting like reality was one of his absurd fantasy novels and Beckett dragging him back into reality and Castle having off the wall theories that often haphazardly led to the truth.

The constant arguments between Castle and Beckett were a delight and even after they began dating and later got married, they continued to argue relentlessly as two lifelong companions whose respect and fondness for each other were generally conveyed through challenging each other in every single story and just about every single scene, their arguments ultimately revealed as not antagonism but flirtation and opposing perspectives matched with a deeply loving energy and joy in each other.

Castle's daughter could only ever exist in fiction, but Molly Quinn and the writing infuse her with tremendous charm. Castle's comic relief sidekicks are fun; Esposito's instinctive impulsivity and Ryan's measured thoughtfulness are a wonderful contrast to Castle's self-indulgent character. The mythology for Beckett's backstory is effective at showing why she is a loner; Castle's serial killer nemesis is brilliantly deranged. Why does Transmodiar call CASTLE a failure? I'd say that sometimes, a piece of art is simply not made FOR us.

I love superheroes. I am not going to watch THE BOYS; I have no interest in a nihilistic series that claims all superheroics are a lie to obscure depravity and sadism. THE BOYS is not what I want out of superheroes just as CASTLE is not what Transmodiar wanted out of a murder procedural about a novelist. That doesn't make THE BOYS or CASTLE failures; that just means they are not suited to our tastes -- except the eighth season of the show actually is a failure and I'm surprised and disappointed to be saying that after so much of me defending it.

Season 8 (it made it to Prime) is in a difficult behind the scenes situation. The show hinged on Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic in arguing with each other in nearly every scene of every episode. However, the cast contracts were over with Season 7, the Season 7 finale was scripted as a series finale -- but then ABC wanted an eighth season. Fillion and Katic negotiated and their signing for an eighth season was contingent on a specific stipulation; Fillion and Katic didn't want to work together anymore and would only sign if they only had to film together for two out of every seven shooting days.

This effectively meant that CASTLE, a show about Castle and Beckett arguing from start to finish every week, would now only be able to show Castle and Beckett in the same shot for two to three scenes an episode.

The situation is bizarre and no clear explanation has ever been provided. Fillion and Katic had apparently built a severe hatred for each other over seven years on CASTLE. Neither have come forward. The onscreen result for Season 8 is that the show must, in every single episode, contrive some means for why Castle and Beckett (who are married and work together to solve murders) are never around each other for more than two scenes a week. Three if we're lucky.

Season 8 opens with Beckett having to fake the end of her marriage with Castle to ward off assassins. Season 8 has Castle working in his own detective agency away from Beckett's cases. Season 8 has Beckett promoted to captain and made to stay at the precinct while Castle is in the field. Season 8 has Castle and Beckett argue over the phone or through video chat. One episode has Castle and Beckett kidnapped but the kidnapper helpfully puts them in separate rooms. One episode has Castle and Beckett trapped on a cruise ship and immediately split up. One episode simply doesn't feature Beckett, no explanation given.

The frustrating thing about Season 8 is that the writing remains consistent with previous seasons: hilarious jokes, bizarre murder mysteries, terrific ongoing character arcs with Castle trying to run a detective agency with his daughter and a new platonic partner. The scenes where Castle and Beckett are actually in the same room together sparkle, the writers struggle to assure the viewer that Castle and Beckett ultimately go home at night to each other even if we don't see much of it anymore -- but the show is unable to provide the element that propelled it through seven years: Castle and Beckett arguing over their relationship and their cases from teaser to credits.

The energy of the show suffers: while Fillion and Katic are capable of carrying a scene without each other, the eager anticipation of Castle's tangents clashing with Beckett's practicality is gone. The push and pull of their mutual but oppositional detective work is gone. The heat between them as they explore mysteries and each other is gone with their brief scenes in each episode feeling more like a token obligation than a fiery and passionate partnership. The writers try to compensate by using the comedy sidekicks and Castle's new associate as comedy foils and the results are adequate but frustrating.

At this point, one has to wonder what the point is of doing CASTLE with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic if they can't be in the same scene more than twice a week. If CASTLE can't offer what made it successful, then CASTLE is a failure. It doesn't feel like a failure in the moment; each scene and each episode resounds with wit and enthusiasm. But the number of episodes devoid of a strong Castle and Beckett story accumulate until the end of the year at which point it becomes clear there won't be one.

ABC and the studio elected to look into renewing CASTLE for a ninth season but allowed their contract with Stana Katic to expire so she wouldn't be in a ninth year. The fans rioted. The original showrunner (who had left in Season 7) disavowed any version of CASTLE without Beckett. The incumbent showrunners, wondering if they would even make it to the ninth season, filmed a cliffhanger where Castle and Beckett are shot.

Their plan was that the ninth season would have Beckett fake her death, end her marriage and join a group of superspies who would be perpetually offscreen while Castle worked in his detective agency as a newly single man. But with the bad publicity, ABC decided to cancel and the creators filmed a tag scene where after the cliffhanger came a scene set years in the future where Castle and Kate were having breakfast with their children, having apparently recovered from their injuries off camera.

It was a jarring, disorienting transition and a disappointing end for a show that had already achieved a strong closing note with Season 7. It was an odd season where the talents of the writers were curtailed by whatever the hell was going on between Fillion and Katic that made CASTLE fail to offer its fans what the fans watched CASTLE to see.

It was an interesting failure.

20 (edited by ireactions 2022-02-14 17:40:28)

Re: Why Did It Fail? A thread of interesting failures.

In the 2012 movie JACK REACHER, Tom Cruise plays an interesting variant on a Quinn Mallory type character. Cruise's Jack Reacher is an image of what Quinn might have been had he decided to enlist in the army instead of going into physics for his graduate studies.

Jack Reacher is like Quinn if Quinn, rather than studying science, studied violence and human frailty, developing a genius-level ability to break human beings bone by bone, weakness by weakness.

Cruise's Jack Reacher is former US Army Criminal Investigation Command, a military police officer who resigned to drift across America, rootless and friendless. Wandering from city to city, town to town, Reacher habitually runs afoul of criminals and uses his lethally ruthless combat skills, investigative genius, brutal improvisation and razor-sharp reflexes to overcome every situation of threat and danger.

The 2012 movie is not a failure. Tom Cruise excels at playing a man of unique skills who has abandoned civilian life and military life to be alone, who keeps entering deadly situations that call for his talents. Cruise's Reacher is impatient with normal-speed thinkers, able to outthink and outwit every enemy, solitary and detached, remote and absolutely riveting to watch onscreen. Jack Reacher is a cocky superhuman with no job and no home, travelling randomly across America, looking for trouble. McQuarrie's brutalist sense of action and minimalism led to him directing Cruise in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Due to McQuarrie being occupied MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, the 2016 JACK REACHER sequel was not directed by Christopher McQuarrie but instead Edward Zwick (THE LAST SAMURAI). The sequel, JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK somehow manages to be a failure despite having a great director, Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders and the brilliant young actress Danika Yarosh. It's very odd how NEVER GO BACK has all the right ingredients to make a great movie but somehow can't get its act together.

The first issue is the rendering of Reacher in this sequel. For whatever reason, Zwick's direction and script soften the Reacher character from McQuarrie's version. From the first scene, Reacher has a warm chemistry with Cobie Smulders' Major Susan Turner, an army officer who has been making use of Reacher's talents in a strictly over-the-phone relationship that's gone from professional to romantic. There's a tenderness to Cruise and Smulders only ever talking over the phone about the investigations on which Reacher is assisting her and Reacher admits that he is deliberately drifting across America towards her so they can meet in person.

Romance is something that needs to be earned for the distant, aloof Reacher character of the first film and NEVER GO BACK doesn't earn it, instead using it as the starting point. The bulk of the movie is spent with Reacher, Turner, and a teenaged girl, Samantha (Danika Yarosh), on the run from deadly gunrunners. Samantha may be Reacher's biological daughter.

In NEVER GO BACK, Reacher, a loner, is suddenly living his drifter life with a woman who wouldn't mind being his wife and a young girl who thinks he's her father.

It's very strange: NEVER GO BACK deliberately mutes any potential conflict and drama for this setup. Reacher's wanderlust, remoteness and iciness are diminished or near non-existent in this film, meaning there's no struggle in Reacher trying to perform these un-Reacher roles. NEVER GO BACK seems to take place over the course of a week at which point all three characters go their separate ways, meaning Reacher's effort to be a husband and father are ultimately irrelevant.

NEVER GO BACK has a great idea -- the thought of Reacher finding himself with a wife and a kid is insane considering the character from JACK REACHER is undomestic in extreme -- but the movie makes it impossible to explore it: Reacher's characterization has been softened to the point where there's no conflict and the movie's timespan is so limited that the film can't explore these ideas sufficiently.

All of Reacher's acidity from JACK REACHER is missing in NEVER GO BACK. His methodical brutality is gone. His frustration and impatience with normal anxieties or idiocy are gone. His predatory intensity is gone. Instead, Reacher in this movie is relaxed with a warm smile, tender and sweet in mannerism and demeanor -- and is almost a different person. It's unclear why this character with his genial easiness is a willful drifter who never sticks around.

The film is nicely shot. The performances are strong. The individual scenes are always compelling. But the movie never comes together and the script feels like an unrefined first draft in need of revision to fully master the Reacher character and explore the awkward situations within the story. And the problem is likely caused by two deficiencies.

The first is that Christopher McQuarrie has a certain brutalist approach to action both as writer and director for JACK REACHER. In contrast, Edward Zwick is a thoughtful, deliberate, gentle creator whose lack of extremity is completely mismatched to a character like this. He's a good filmmaker, he's just the wrong one for Jack Reacher. It's obvious that McQuarrie understood how to direct Tom Cruise to play Reacher, how to strip down Cruise's charisma to a lean, result-oriented, militaristic character -- while Zwick is leaving Cruise to his own devices and Cruise doesn't understand how to play Reacher without McQuarrie.

And the second is that NEVER GO BACK is not the right story for a feature film; the concept requires a TV show with a season of episodic exploration of how Reacher, an isolated, solitary man now has a wife and a kid.

It's interesting: after this sequel, novelist Lee Child, creator of the Jack Reacher character, triggered a termination clause in his contract to end his agreement with Tom Cruise's movie studio. It's rare for an author to have this kind of control or to exercise it, but Child wanted no further films with Reacher from this studio or with Tom Cruise playing the character. He shopped the TV rights to Netflix and finally, Amazon Prime.

I assume that the new REACHER TV show on Amazon Prime with Alan Ritchson (Aquaman from SMALLVILLE, Hawk from TITANS) will probably turn out better because it's a TV show. Of course, Ritchson's depiction of this character may be totally unlike any image of Quinn Mallory that I have in my head.