I Survived a Japanese Game Show Season 2 Tonight

I Survived a Japanese Game Show - Season 2Don’t forget, the second season of I Survived a Japanese Game Show starts tonight on ABC at 9pm, after Wipeout.

This season splits 12 people (vs. 10 for last season) into 2 teams to complete in the “Japanese-like” game show Majide.  This season is allegedly supposed to have more games and less behind-the-scenes dorama, which even I felt was the show’s biggest weakness last year.

Indeed, initial interest in the show was fairly decent (the season premiered at #2 in the time slot vs. America’s Got Talent, only to fall out of the top 4 by the end of it’s 7 episode run).  I’m guessing that the success of the zany obstacle course game Wipeout has caused ABC to decide to try again on ISaJGS since it’s very much up the same alley.  It’s just that Wipeout was obstacle course from start to finish while maybe only 1/3 of ISaJGS actually consisted of contestants competing.  We’ll have to see tonight how much ABC increased that ratio.  I’m not expecting start to finish games, but hopefully at least a majority of the episode is dedicated to games.

The show was orginally supposed to start airing in July, but was pushed up to this week (maybe the Goode Family wasn’t faring that well?)

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Live Action Review – Star Trek

I kind of hate it that my first “real” post coming back from my hiatus is for a live action movie, but that’s how it is.  Now, on to the review…

startrekStar Trek is a sequel/prequel/reboot/whatever/all of the above of the Star Trek franchise which has been dead in the water since Star Trek: Nemesis flopped in 2002 and Enterprise ended prematurely in 2005.  This 4 year span was the longest stretch without any new Trek episodes or movies since the end of The Original Series in 1969 and Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 (unless you count the animated series, which aired in 1973 and ’74).

J.J. Abrams decided to go back to Star Trek roots for this movie, ditching the tendency to extend Star Trek‘s legacy by extending the story further into the future (obviously Enterprise is a rather significant exception to that) and by exploring  the origins of the original Enterprise crew.  However, to do this he decided to do something that no one had done before, and which probably wouldn’t be possible for virtually any other franchise but Star Trek: make a movie which is simultaneously a sequel, prequel, and reboot all in one.

What results is an overall exciting and action packed movie which should satisfy a good number of original Star Trek fans, but is still palitable enough for those who may be new to the Star Trek universe.

Scores

Story: B/B-
Acting: B
Sound: A
Special Effects: A+
Music: C+

Overall: B

Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers.  If you want the full review with spoilers…see below the fold.

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Dragonball Evolution weekend estimate: $4.65 million

I don’t think even the biggest doubters of the live-actin Dragonball: Evolution could have imagined that this movie would have bombed so much.  After 3 days, Dragonball: Evolution opened at #8 with an estimated $4.65 million.  One should note that these estimates are often revised downwards as well (Speed Racer‘s actual opening weekend total was nearly 10% less than the initial estimate), so in a worst case scenario, the actuals could put it under even $4 million.

Given that Dragonball screened on 2,181 theaters and that average ticket prices are $7.18, that means a total of about 647,500 people saw this movie, averaging to about 300 people per theater, or 100 people per theater per day (and then spread that out to 5 to 7 shows per day per theater, assuming it was only on 1 screen per theater, it’s looking at something around 15 to 20 people per screen per showing.).  While Speed Racer was seen as a bomb as well, it still garnered 249 people per theater per day, even though it was shown in over 1000 more theaters.  Box Office Mojo rates it as the 84th worst opening for a movie that opened in over 2000 theaters.

This also continues a string of flops for Fox, whose last films have opened to bad performances, with 12 Rounds opening to just $5.3 million and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li opening at $4.7 million (in 1,136 theaters, meaning that, on average, it actually did better than Dragonball), and the studio only has 2 films in the top 30 this year so far.

Weekend actuals are expected to be released sometime this afternoon.

Dragonball loses it's balls at the box office – opens Friday at $2.1 million

The question of whether the new Hannah Montana movie would do better than Dragonball: Evolution has been answered with a definitive yes.  In fact, it turned into a blowout.

Dragonball: Evolution opened Friday with a non-existant $2.1 million, opening in 8th place after one day, and averaging $951 per screen (though, it would open at #6 based on how much money was made per screen).  If you say that each screen had an average of 6 showings of the movie, that averages down to about $158.50 per showing, or about 16 people in the theater every time it ran.

Just from a brief review of early movies, there is little consistency on whether Friday is the best or worst (or middle) day for weekend box office numbers, but at this point Dragonball is probably going to be looking at between a $5 million  and $8 million opening weekend – obviously a bigger bomb than even I was imagining it to be.

On the otherhand, Hannah Montana looks to open at #1, racking up $17.4 million on Friday, and looks to garner between $45 and $60 million in a huge surprise this weekend.  (though I”m not sure what this says about society in general).

Update: Also for some perspective, Speed Racer opened on Friday at $6.2 million, leading into an opening weekend of $18.6 million and an overall domestic haul of $43.9 million.  Now consider that Dragonball is making about 1/3 Speed Racer did on opening Friday…

Star Trek Trailer 3 Screens and Thoughts

First off, if you haven’t seen the trailer, then go watch it here or here first.

Having said that, below the fold are some screenshots of the third and probably final Star Trek trailer and my thoughts about what we see.

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Two Months Until Star Trek

Star Trek

OK, it’s not anime, but I’m sure there is a lot of overlap in the fanbases, and I’m getting flippin excited that it’s finally coming out (after waiting for Christmas 08 for forever, only to hear that it was being pushed back another 5 months).  I hope people don’t midn if I do some star trek cheerleading on here over the next 2 months or so occasionally lol.

And here’s the brand spanking new trailer:

New Dragonball: Evolution Clips

Check them out (if you dare).

If we didn’t already have enough evidence that this movie was going to bomb, this should pretty much guarantee it.  Those clips got me close to breaking my record for most facepalms per minute.

I mean, seriously, how did whoever made this movie possibly even comprehend that it would do well.  The only thing I can imagine is that they’re going for the “kids movie” route (it is rated PG), which is sort of what Speed Racer was doing as well.  However, it’s trying to sell itself as some action blockbuster at the same time (kind of like Speed Racer as well).  However, unlike what Dragonball: Evolution appears, Speed Racer was kind of, you know, actually half-way good.

Speed Racer opened with about $18.6 million on a 4-day opening weekend.  We’ll see if Dragonball: Evolution can even match that on a 5-day opening weekend.  I’ve never seen a movie seen almost unanimously as a joke before it screened since such classics as Bangkok Dangerous ($7.8 million opening), Son of the Mask ($7.5 million opening), and, of course, the bombs of all bombs, Gigli, which had a $3.8 million opening.  I’m not necessarily joking when I say “we’ll have to see if it beats Hannah Montana: the Movie.”

Perhaps it’s only chance is that enough people are curious enough about it that it mostly earns what it costs to make, ala The Dukes of Hazzards (which made about $80 million total).

Anime to Live-Action: What Would it Take?

With now only about a month until Dragonball: Evolution graces (or disgraces) onto big screens across the nation, I once again address the topic of adapting anime and/or manga series into live-action movies in Hollywood.

While many in the anime community are inherently opposed to such adaptations for one reason for another, I’ve always thought that such adaptations are a way to perhaps help the movie industry from endless sequels and remakes, while validating the medium that those of us in the anime community love.

Every medium has it’s own problems with being adapted into movies.  Adapting movies from novels have the the often unenviable problem of crunching several hundred pages of stuff into 120 minutes of screen time – to say nothing of the actual translation of words on a page into an audio/visual medium.

Adapting anime into a live action movie has several adaptation problems as well.  I think most of the problems can be boiled down to 4 points:

  • The show has to be one that will appeal to a wide audience to begin with
  • The show’s story has to be one that can survive being condensed down to 120 minutes
  • The movie shouldn’t be a “live-action cartoon”
  • The show has to be logistically adaptable to a live-action show

The first point is rather self-explanatory:  to have a successful movie adaptation, it has to be of a story that people would actually go watch in the first place.  For example, as much as it is adored by anime fandom, I doubt that a live-action Cardcaptor Sakura movie would exactly be a big hit in the US, no matter what you did with it.  However, a show such as Cowboy Bebop is one which may be attractive to a broad audience.

The second point is perhaps one of the biggest worries of anime fans when the topic of live-action adapations come up:  will a story have to be cut down to such an extent that it would become unrecognizable?  A show would either have to be largely episodic in nature, have so much fluff that it could be sufficiently cut down, only have a particular story arc told, or could have it’s central themes expressed via a new story that could work in a movie.

Once again I return to a show like Cowboy Bebop which would be episodic in nature, and thus a movie could basically be an episode on steroids, as far as the story is concerned.  A show which could perhaps be told with an alternative story, but still keep the things that make the original show good include a show like Chobits, where the actual specifics of how one gets from start to finish matter less than the basics of the story and the lessons learned.  Meanwhile, a show like Evangelion seems like one which would be very difficult to adapt since there are too many things that you can’t cut out (sorry ADV).

The third point is one which, I think, Hollywood has the biggest problem with, and that is “cartooning” the adaptation.  What I mean is this:  when people see a live-action movie, they want a live-action movie.  Meaning a movie which appears like it is or could take place in our reality, unless the show is just based in a completely different world.

Popular franchises like Star Trek and Harry Potter are fantasy all the way, but they’re still made to look like they could take place in our world.  Meanwhile, I think one of the downfalls of the old Batman movies is that the world they took place in looked less and less like “our” world and more and more like some world which was alien to us, so people lost their suspension of disbilief, and, thus, their interest.  This was the primary downfall of the Speed Racer live-action movie, and threatens to take down the Dragonball one as well.

Any adaptation should look and feel like it is taking place in our world.  I know there seems to be a strong tendency to keep cartoony looking things cartoony looking, but whomever is making the adaptation should avoid doing that unless it can be done in a way that looks “real” (which, with the help of cgi, should be possible for many things).

The final point is that it be logistically possible for a show to be adapted.  There are few anime series that would be caught up in this final point, especially with the state of cgi animation, but there are still a few.  My top example is Gunslinger Girl.  I think the story in Gunslinger Girl would be one immediately attractive as an action/drama movie.  I think it would be relatively easily adapted to a 2-hour script, and I think one could easily do it in a “real” way.

The problem?  What’s the chances that one could find 8 to 14 year old girls – or actresses who could pass as 8 to 14 year old girls – who could act the necessary parts competently?  The answer is probably “you couldn’t,” and the only recourse would be to bump the girl’s ages by about a decade, making them 18 to 24 or so.  While this may be fine for many series, with Gunslinger Girl, doing such a thing would take away much of what makes the series good, as part of the “tragedy,” if you will, of the series is the fact that they are so young.  The age of the girls make it both amazing that they can do what they can do while at the same time make them very pitiable characters, both of which become less effective if you make them older.

As one might have been able to tell, I have high hopes for the announced Cowboy Bebop movie.  It’s always been near the top of my list as the type of show that can be quite good if done right.  It just has to be done right.  If it is, hopefully it can be an example that any further adaptations can follow.

Oh yeah, and here is the Dragonball: Evolution trailer:

Dragonball: Evolution trailer thoughts

So I checked out the leaked Dragonball: Evolution trailer which came out earlier this month (oddly, I can’t an official website for the movie yet) and these are basically my thoughts:

  • They’re banking on special effects (especially of things blowing up) and people fighting to bring in people
  • The special effects are, on average, average and some of them look pretty bad (though one might give them the benefit of a doubt since they might not be complete yet)
  • They appear to be trying to do the fighting scenes in the Chinese Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Matrix style – that is to say, it is obviously fake, and since they’re trying to mimic it, it looks even worse.
  • The acting sucks.  No, really, it really sucks.  And there isn’t even much of it in the trailer.
  • The actual video quality sucks (and I’m not talking about the YouTube quality.  I mean how the cinematography is done makes it look like a cheap TV show, not a theatrical movie)
  • I don’t fucking care what the character names is.  That portion of the trailer is targeted solely towards people who are already fans which, I’m sorry, isn’t enough to keep the movie from bombing.

Some of you may remember how unimpressed I was with the Speed Racer trailer and how much I doubted how it would attract people to see it, even with the flashy special effects.

Well, Dragonball is making Speed Racer look like an academy award winner movie.  While Speed Racer didn’t really attract people to the theater, it’s special effects were actually, you know, good.  And while the acting wasn’t good, it was decent.  Dragonball appears to be several levels below Speed Racer on both accounts based on this trailer.

Amazingly, Fox has spent a whopping $100 million on this movie, only $20 million less than the eye-popping Speed Racer, and the dollars per minute is actualy more than Speed Racer at the moment:  Speed Racer ran for 135 minutes, which amounts to about $889,000 a minute, while Dragonball: Evolution is currently slated to be 98 minutes – at least according to Wikipedia – which would put it at $1,020,000 a minute.

That’s nothing compared to most summer blockbusters – Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End cost $300 million and the just released Quantum of Solace cost $230 million.  On the other hand, the hugely popular Ironman cost $135 million – which is only about $50,000 more a minute than the Dragonball movie right now.

Considering that, this movie should be a special effects extraveganza.  It sure isn’t looking like it.

I’ve long said that I thought that this movie would bomb – not because I think turning anime series into live action movies is an inherently bad idea or because of any ill will towards the Dragonball series, but it just didn’t seem like the right title to adapt.  And on top of this, Fox ignores the lessons of movies like Batman Begins, Spiderman, and X-Men as well as of movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Speed Racer and decide to turn the movie into a “live action cartoon,” something which almost assures a death sentence for a movie.

If you want to give people a cartoon, then give them a cartoon.  If you want to give them a live action movie, then give them a live action movie.  People don’t seem to like it when you try to mix the two.

Evangelion on ABC! OK, not really, but still marginally cool

I’m surprised I didn’t spot this earlier, but there is a brief shot of an Evangelion poster in the 2nd episode of I Survived A Japanese Game Show:

And if you’re blind as a bat and can’t see it:

As I said, I’m surprised I didn’t spot it before since I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for anything like that.  I wouldn’t be shocked if I missed something else too.