Disney films hit a couple of significant milestones this week.
The big news, of course, is the phenomenal success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that was based on one of the more obscure Marvel properties, had no major stars, and revolved around some pretty wacky ideas (like a talking, machine-gun-toting raccoon), yet still managed to become the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie without Iron Man, at least in North America.
Overseas, it ranks behind all of the Marvel sequels, but ahead of all their other “original” films except for The Avengers — and that was really kind of a super-sequel, too. So you could say that, worldwide, Guardians of the Galaxy is the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that introduced a new set of characters.
As a former Stryper fan — I bought all but one of their albums when I was a teen, and I attended two of their concerts, once on the To Hell with the Devil tour, when they were still dressed in yellow and black and throwing Bibles into the audience, and once on the Against the Law tour, when they were wearing different clothes and actively downplaying their Christian connections — I have to make note of it whenever a movie makes a reference to them.
Five years ago, one of their stickers appeared in the background in the office of a grocery-store manager in Wendy and Lucy. Then, four years ago, one of their T-shirts played a significant role in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It.
I may have written my post on possible upcoming Greco-Roman movies too soon. Today, MGM (the studio that is currently pondering a remake of Ben-Hur) and Paramount (the studio that is currently making Noah — which admittedly has nothing to do with Greece or Rome, but it does take place within a similar sort of ancient mythic context) announced that their adaptation of Steve Moore’s Hercules comics will come out next year. The film, which has been in development for at least five years, currently has Brett Ratner attached to direct and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson attached to star. The projected release date is August 8, 2014 — or less than five months after the release of Noah.
The Mummy, a tongue-in-cheek, late-1990s remake of a 1930s classic, wasn’t a great movie, but it was a fun movie. More of a comedy than a horror story or even an action flick, it overcame the conventions of its genre by treating them all as one big joke, and no one had more fun with this than Brendan Fraser. As Rick O’Connell, a brawny but not so brainy legionnaire who battles bugs and monsters after some amateur archaeologists unwittingly bring an old Egyptian priest back to life, Fraser made ugly faces at the monsters that tried to scare him while providing deadpan commentary on the otherworldly forces surrounding him. The first time Rick shoots the walking corpse, he responds to the panic of a man more in touch with the supernatural than he by putting on a cocky smile and saying, “It’s okay, we got him.” The Mummy was an enjoyable film because the characters were in over their heads and didn’t have a clue.