Monday, June 27, 2011

Movie Review - The King's Speech

When God couldn't save the King, the Queen turned to someone who could.

The Oscar-winning "The King's Speech" tells the story of King George VI (played by Colin Firth), the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.

First of all, I was very surprised at how well Colin Firth was able to stammer the way he did. Although, that seemed to be the real thing that made his performance difficult, even though he won Best Actor. The rest of the acting was very good, too, and this movie was very emotional in terms of King George not having a choice to be king, although in such a biopic as this, I wish we would have seen more of his childhood, like in a flashback or something. But still a very interesting and pragmatic film.

Rated R for two scenes with repetitive uses of the f- and s-words, but my dad and I remarked at the end that it was almost necessary! So, otherwise, it should be suitable for most teens, depending on how badly offended your parents are by such coarse language.

Three stars (out of 4) for "The King's Speech."

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Movie Review - The Day the Earth Stood Still

By Alex Popp

Jennifer Connelly plays Dr. Helen Benson, who is summoned to a military facility with several other scientists when an alien spacecraft of sorts arrives in New York City in the remake of the 1951 sci-fi film, "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

Aboard is a human-like alien and a giant robot of immense size and power. The alien identifies himself as Klaatu and says he has come to save the Earth. The US military and political authorities see him as a threat, however, and decide to use so-called intensive interrogation techniques on him, but Dr. Benson decides to facilitate his escape. When she learns exactly what he means when he says he is there to save the Earth, she tries to convince him to change his intentions.

I haven't seen the original, but I still had a lot of problems with the movie. For the most part, it was the premise/message about how "man is causing global warming." The main point is repeated over and over again. It was so preachy.

The real thing was that it was pretty clean with hardly any profanity and graphic violence, and no sex. But this is the kind of movie that you would barely notice any of that, because it's already bad enough without it. Put that in with corny script and mediocre effects and you have one of the worst films of 2008.

Rated a light PG-13 for some mildly intense sci-fi violence.

One and a half stars (out of 4) for "The Day the Earth Stood Still," which make the earth stand still in boredom.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thor - TheAnimationEmpire Movie Review

Thor was very good. I ended up seeing it twice in the theater (once in 3D and once without).

I kind of find it funny how, on the poster above, they have to write Thor twice just to show you that you're looking at the actual Thor character. They don't think people would know that.

I have to admit that Thor felt like two movies that were threaded together (one in Asgard and one on Earth). It also seemed that it would be hard to really make a villain that could give Thor a real fight (he's basically Superman: awesome, invincible, and he flies). In addition, I wasn't sure what kind of special effects they'd give us when his weapon is a big hammer.

Plus they had the additional challenge of making a Norse god relevant and interesting to us. And then they added another challenge by placing a relatively new actor into the title role (Chris Hemsworth, who was James Kirk's dad in the Star Trek reboot). And they added one more challenge to the plate by giving the movie to the director, Kenneth Branagh. It kind of fit... he's a Shakespearean director (and other period pieces), but he hadn't had a ton of success as a director yet and it had been many years since his last directorial effort.

Despite all the challenges and potential potholes, Thor was an amazing movie.

They made it more successful than X-Men: First Class (another attempt at establishing new-ish Marvel heroes in the same summer).

Here are the reasons why I think it was such a good movie:

1. Chris Hemsworth nailed Thor. You can't always get established actors. Sometimes the best actors aren't known yet, but they're so good that the movie makes them known. This is one of those roles. Chris morphed into Thor and nailed the cocky yet fun-loving attitude. This is on the same level as Hugh Jackman making Wolverine, Chris Evans making Human Torch in Fantastic Four (which he has leveraged to become Captain America as well), and Ryan Reynolds as DeadPool in X-Men: Wolverine (which led to Green Lantern and a coming DeadPool movie).

2. It's funny and clever. All the characters provide the right mix of humor, and the references to mythical elements are also clever, like an effets-driven update to the Rainbow Bridge and to all the characters and power items. I also appreciate the Hawkeye reference. I wasn't too excited about the actor (he doesn't seem impressive enough), but my friend assured me that he's great (and id a great job in The Hurt Locker).

3. The romance story works well. Due to #1 above and #5 below, Thor and Portman have great chemistry together. And the romance is brought to life even more, due to the humor and cleverness from #2 above.

4. The mythical world is brought to life with effects and superb directing. I really felt drawn into the world. The whole Ice Giants thing was a little silly to me, but they dealt with the mythology and the comic books in a realistic way, and thus, I still felt like it could be real. Which is kind of the point... even when something obviously isn't real, they want to present it as if it was real and get you involved in that world. They did it. The effects were amazing and highly... effective. Specifically, the battle sequences, monsters, giants, ice world, rainbow bridge... even the size differences of some of the characters... it all brought to life the idea of this world where talismans and other powers make warriors into gods.

5. The cast supports it well. Natalie Portman as a super hero love interest is a great catch. Her friends support well (Norah without her playlist). Anthony Hopkins is the ideal Odin. Renee Russo supports well (in a few shots). Our SHIELD agent friend does a great job (as usual), and even Loki is spot on. Thor's warrior friends are fun (though underused). We even get to see an enjoyable glimpse of Hawkeye (though he hasn't yet proven why he should be an Avenger).

And that's pretty much it. Congrats to everyone involved. They brought us the right mix of romance, humor, story, and effects. So far, it's the most succesful summer super hero film, beating out Green Lantern, X-Men First Class, and Priest (Captain America is TBD). The film has made (to date) $176 million in the US, with $435 million worldwide. That's a good haul for a new hero flick.

The Foreign box office take was particularly high ($259 million) and is comparable to Iron Man ($266 million) and higher than X-Men 3 ($225 M) and X-Men 2 ($192 M).

Overall with $435 M worldwide, Thor beat X-Men 2 ($408 M), X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($373 M), X-Men 1 ($296 M), Fantastic Four ($331 M), Incredible Hulk ($263 M), X-Men First Class ($286 M), and Ghost Rider ($229 M).

Thor's one of those Superman-like heroes who's basically invincible. So they need to find ways to make him vulnerable and real. In this film, they kind of cheated by taking away his powers (which is the usual way Superman is attacked... Kriptonite steals his powers). It's kind of an annoying cheat, really. Once Thor finally earned his hammer back, then it was pretty much game over for Loki and the Defender.

So hopefully they'll think of better ways to make him vulnerable than to cheat like that. "Either all or nothing" is not an entertaining way for him to fight villains. And if he's going to be in a sequel and in the Avengers movie, then they need him to fight villains who are at least as powerful as he is with his powers (maybe even a little more powerful than him).

The Hulk could work in Avengers (the Hulk could beat Thor), but I'm not sure what they want to do with Hulk (make him good, bad, or both).

Oh and in Disney news, Avengers will be the first Disney produced Marvel movie! Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, and


- The Emperor

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Movie Review - Soul Surfer

By Alex Popp

The next "Blind Side"?

Based on the amazing true story, AnnaSophia Robb plays Bethany Hamilton, a teenage girl who is a natural on the surfboard in "Soul Surfer". Placing high in several competitions, she seems to have a whole career ahead of her. But it's all unpleasantly interrupted when she is attacked by a shark and loses her left arm. After weeks in the hospital, she doesn't give up on surfing and is determined to get back on the board, refusing to get a prosthetic arm.

With stunning camera work, entertaining surf competition scenes, and an all-star cast including Oscar-Winning Helen Hunt, Dennis Quaid, Carrie Underwood, and Craig T. Nelson, "Soul Surfer" is bound to be the best film of 2011.

AnnaSophia Robb has been acting since the age of 11, starring in other good movies such as "Because of Winn-Dixie", "Bridge to Terabithia", and "Race to Witch Mountain". And she is clearly growing as an actress; this is undoubtedly her best performance yet. Other fantastic performances included Dennis Quaid as Bethany's father, Chris Brochu as her brother, Timmy, and Lorraine Nicholson as her best friend. Carrie Underwood didn't appear in very many scenes, so it's difficult to say how she did. But who knows, singing may not be her only gift.

There have been arguments on whether or not this is a Christian movie. I would have to say yes. Bethany had to trust in the Lord to give her the strength and courage to return to the sea. She does whatever it takes to overcome the odds, as she says, "I don't need easy. I just need possible." And the verse Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." This verse was for a time removed during editing. But when Carrie Underwood reportedly asked the filmmakers to "tell the story" fairly and accurately by preserving both the verse and its reference, they listened. Also, Dennis Quaid reads a Bible. There's something we don't see every day. In fact, deemed too conspicuous and "prop-like," the words "Holy Bible" were also digitally removed from the cover of Bethany's dad's Bible (most Bibles these days don't have much on the front). But after Tom Hamilton e-mailed a photo of his own Bible—emblazoned with big text similar to that on the Gideon's Bible used in the scene—the words were reinstated. Hamilton told The Hollywood Reporter, "I could see the words bright and clear. I looked at my wife and whispered, 'Thank you, God, they put it back.'"

"Soul Surfer" tells the story accurately and is an epic and touching film that surpasses "The Blind Side". In fact, it may change the way you look at sports movies.

Rated PG for a very disturbing and heart-pounding sequence involving the shark attack. The shot where the shark merely pops out of the ocean scared the Darwin out of me. Although the attack itself is relatively quick, there is a lot of blood in the water. "Soul Surfer" is way out of range for kids 10 and under.

Four stars (out of 4) for the exhilerating and mind-blowing, "Soul Surfer," a true soul lifter of a movie.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movie Review - Bolt

By Alex Popp

If you think that "Bolt" is just a dog movie, think again.

Bolt, voiced by John Travolta, is the canine star of a hit TV series, living his whole life on its set, believing that he has superpowers due to the way that the crew edits the show. When he is accidentally shipped from Hollywood to New York City, he goes on cross-country trip with a cat and his biggest (and smallest) fan, a hamster named Rhino, to find his way back to his teenage owner (voiced by Miley Cyrus).

When I saw the trailers and promos for this film, I thought of the movie "Underdog." I thought, "Looks pretty resistable." But is, in fact, irresistable with loads of laughs, stunning animation, and delightful characters (notably Rhino). I saw it with my brother and sisters, and we all enjoyed it. And of course, my brother and I were whispering to each through the opening scenes, "Cats are evil."

I also did see some spiritual content: the message of how you need to look around for evidence before you assume something is true.

Rated PG for some peril and action, but should be perfectly fine for most young moviegoers.

Four stars (out of 4) for "Bolt." It's awesome. No, it's beyond awesome. It's BE-awesome! Hahaha!

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review - Tangled

by Alex Popp

It takes two to tangle.

(I made that one up)

I'm sure we all know the story of Rapunzel, but you don't need to to enjoy the outrageously hilarious "Tangled," Disney Animation's 50th film (not including Pixar films and other non-canon titles) and the most expensive animated movie of all.

After receiving the healing powers from a magical flower, the baby Princess Rapunzel is kidnapped from the palace in the middle of the night by Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel knows that the flower's magical powers are now growing within the golden hair of Rapunzel, and to stay young, she must lock Rapunzel in her hidden tower. Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore from "A Walk to Remember") is now a teenager and her hair has grown to a length of 70-feet. The beautiful Rapunzel has been in the tower her entire life, and she is curious of the outside world. One day, the bandit Flynn Ryder, voiced by Zachary Levi, scales the tower and is taken captive by Rapunzel. Rapunzel strikes a deal with the charming thief to act as her guide to travel to the place where the floating lights come from that she has seen every year on her birthday.

It may sound like just another Disney princess movie, but it really goes beyond that with its constant knee-slapping humor in an excellent original screenplay and dazzling animation similar to that of "Bolt." Most of the songs are catchy and fun, including the comical "I've Got a Dream" and the Oscar-nominated "I See the Light." And the characters are so likeable that I don't see how anyone could not enjoy the movie.

Rated PG for some violence that may be too much for very young kids (someone gets stabbed with a knife off-screen).

The only thing with "Tangled" is at the beginning and end when Flynn narrates. He talks like the viewers know nothing ("The queen became sick. And that's usually when people start looking for a cure.") It's not very much like him and just feels a bit out of place. Still, "Tangled" deserves three and a half stars (out of 4), and is in some rivalry with "Toy Story 3" and "Despicable Me" for the best animated film of 2010.

Review by Alex Popp for The Animation Empire blog.


Emperor here. I agree with Alex except for "Despicable Me." I wanted Despicable Me to be good, but it was shallow and just pandered to the kids with the minions. That's good (they know their audience), but it's no The Incredibles, and it shouldn't be compared to Tangled or Toy Story 3 (in my opinion).


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides - TheAnimationEmpire Movie Review

Unfortunately, I think Pirates4 was the worst of the series (I'll get right to it).

I suspect American agrees with me. Here's how the Pirates films faired stateside:

5/20/11 - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - BV
$201,057,000 (US)

5/25/07 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - BV
$309,420,425 (US)

7/7/06 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - BV
$423,315,812 (US)

7/9/03 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - BV
$305,413,918 (US)

As you can see from above, Americans didn't like Pirates 4, they liked 1 and 3 about the same, and they liked Dead Man's Chest the best. I agree that Pirates 2 was good (although Black Pearl is my favorite). Pirates 2 introduced us to Davey Jones, it gave us a sword fight on a giant wheel, it furthered the sweeping romantic story, and it gave us a giant Kraken. It did its job well. (Whereas the third one was weird because it involved Hell being a desert, and it involved Jack Sparrow seeing several versions of himself, a weirdness that he seemed to have shaken off before the fourth movie.)

What was good about Pirates 4:

- Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow was as great as always.
- Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa was a welcome returning character.
- The Mermaid stuff was excellent.

What was lacking:

1. The sweeping love story is gone. As much as I was excited to see Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley exit the series, I now see how they were necessary. They were not replaced well (a half-hearted attempt was made at making Penelope Cruz into a Jack Sparrow love interest and another attempt was made to build a romance between a priest and a mermaid that eerily ended in death). Without the epic romance, the story, energy, sense of purpose, and overall pacing of the movie was lacking.

2. The humor was gone. Jack was about as funny as usual, maybe a little less so. Mostly because he didn't really have any new material (he's done it all in the last three films). Also, in the first three films he wasn't relied on as the humor (he just complemented other key elements of humor). For example, the two bumbling pirates who were good for a laugh were gone. For some reason they were replaced with the annoying character from Snatch and someone said "we're good on the humor department" and gave up. Or something like that. =^)

Similarly, the cleverness was absent. I saw the skeleton in bed reference to the ride, but other than that, I don't really remember being impressed by clever writing as I did in the other three films. I'm counting this toward the humor aspect. The lack of humor also made the film start out slow (it took a long time before it became interesting).

3. The villains were weak. I love the blackbeard historical figure (I always wanted them to use him), and Ian McShane did a good job with it, but other than a briefly smoking beard (which is historically accurate and not taken in a cool and fantastical direction), which they seemed to forget about and stop doing, and other than him being able to control the ropes on ships and then bottle them up (a nice magical power that they never really explain or tie into anything useful), he just doesn't stack up. He's not the conniving evil British leaders we've grown to love, he's not an immortal who turns into a skeleton in the moon's light (Black Pearl), and he's not an immortal who controls the sea, controls the Kraken, and has a squid for a face (Davey Jones; hard to beat that).

And Penelope Cruz is barely better than Keira Knightley (and she comes without the romantic epic story to tie it all together). Plus the mysterious Spanish army is cool and seems to have their act together better than all the captains we actually see in the film. So their mystery is interesting, but their characters aren't all that cool or interesting, except for the fact that they keep coming back and having success and we're not quite sure why they're so good at it. The lack of interesting and cool villains also made the beginning move too slowly (it was awhile before we met Blackbeard, and he wasn't enough to spice it up very quickly).

4. The action and effects weren't quite there either. Sure, the mermaids were interesting (and a few minor water tricks), but there were no sword battles on giant wheels, no giant squids, no giant anything, no battles in storms (only one brief pirate ship battle in a mutiny), and no characters with special effects dripping off their faces.

In an age now where the blockbuster movies have to have effects that blow you away, this film was lacking. (Although people outside the US didn't seem to mind too much.) That might sound shallow, but simply said, we want to watch movies that are cool, and this one was missing that element. So the lack of action also made this movie move a little slower than the others.


Despite its shortcomings, the movie accomplished what it set out to do (thanks to folks outside the US)... make money.

Here are the movies with the World Wide stats included:

5/20/11 - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - BV
$201,057,000 (US) - $831,744,000 (WW)

5/25/07 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - BV
$309,420,425 (US) - $960,996,492 (WW)

7/7/06 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - BV
$423,315,812 (US) - $1,060,615,812 (WW)

7/9/03 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - BV
$305,413,918 (US) - $658,311,224 (WW)

Looking at those stats above, non-Americans came to see it just as much as Pirates 2 and 3. It did much better than Pirates 1 overseas (which is normal that it takes the first film before the overseas market warms up to it more).

So will they make another Pirates movie? I think they should. They pretty much tied down the story of Pirates 4 without much room to continue it (my guess is because Johnny Depp wants out), but that can be a great reason to continue it. Without being tied to lackluster story of Pirates 4, they can try again and try to build out those elements that were lacking from this film: a sweeping romance, humor and cleverness, amazing villains, and better action sequences and effects.


- The Emperor

Monday, June 13, 2011

X-Men: First Class - TheAnimationEmpire Movie Review

Overall, it was a great story and a great movie. But that's not enough nowadays, is it?

Basically, this movie was X-Men without Wolverine, and they now know how badly they need Wolverine or an interesting character like him (Gambit or Deadpool would work) to hold a film like this. They try hard to make this film interesting with Professor X and Magneto, but the problem is that we don't really see anything new here.

As one reviewer mentioned, this film seems to cater to fans and give them what they want... by filling in the blanks from the other films. Essentially this combines the earlier "X-Men Origins: Magneto" attempts. A younger, bold Magneto and Professor X aren't the same draw as Wolverine.

Truthfully, I think a Wolverine-less X-Men movie is possible, but they would need a lot more action, interesting characters, and special effects than this to pull it off.

Overall, the movie is very enjoyable. It does have some great effects. However, despite the story and characters, it's looking to rank last in super hero films this year to three new attempts: Thor, Captain America, and Green Lantern. It's also going to rank last of the 5 X-Men movies.

In order to compete at this level, as a blockbuster film, the movie has to do more visually and has to include more over-the-top and bankable characters (like Wolverine). The story and characters are excellent, but this isn't Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting, this is a blockbuster superhero Marvel movie.

As far as effects go, everything we saw here was already done in X-Men 2 and/or 3. There's nothing new here in action or effects. In effects, it probably ranks close to the first X-Men film, which means it doesn't meet current expectations. It's basically an X-Men movie without newer effects and without Wolverine.

And that doesn't seem to be what the fans want.

So I think the movie did quite well because of the story and characters (despite the lack of enough action, effects, and crazy characters). Which means there's hope.

Overall, it would be a shame to see this reboot go, especially since they're continuing the present-day timeline with Wolverine (in The Wolverine) and Deadpool. These X-Men characters are great, and the story is also good.

So I definitely think they should try again and make a sequel to this. However, they are going to need more impressive action and effects (time to let Bryan Singer go to Battlestar Galactica and get writers on the team who know how to sell out to action sequences and fit it into the story better). And they're going to need to add an interesting character into the mix. Since Wolverine is already out of this timeline, they can still bring in the Cyclops and Jean Grey love story (they wasted Angel and Iceman, but maybe they can bring them back in as well). And then they also need a wildcard character, so I suggest Longshot, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Multiple Man, or Colossus, and then they also have to make them as interesting as the comics do (Nightcrawler and Colossus weren't interesting in the films so far).

As far as Disney goes, I think Marvel is going to keep the X-Men license with Fox until this X-Men series franchise dies out. As far as I can tell, they can still get one to three more films out of this New Class reboot (if they do it right), another two Wolverine movies, and then three Deadpool movies (again, if they do it right). Plus they could easily give great characters like Gambit and Nightcrawler their own films, but first they need to make them great in an X-Men movie (hasn't happened yet).

Then I think the franchise will slide over to Disney once this X-Men timeline/existence has worked through the possible films (currently Fox is making The Wolverine and Deadpool). Then hopefully they can reboot it under the Disney brand and stick closer to the comics (if you don't know, Bryan Singer butchered the timelines on all the characters in the comics and even butchered personalities of the characters to get them to fit in the stories, so a faithful reboot would actually be far more successful than this run was; so far the most faithful one to the timelines and characters was Wolverine, and I assume they will keep The Wolverine and Deadpool faithful).

And if/when the X-Men franchise slides over to Disney production (Disney owns Marvel now, so it's only a matter of time), then with the reboot they can fit the characters into the Avengers world (which might be a different world, by that time) and feature film crossovers.


- The Emperor

Saturday, June 11, 2011

BO Clout: Fast Five puts Vin Diesel up to six $100 million US films

Vin Diesel stats:
$100M+ (World Wide) - 8
$100M+ (US) - 6
$200M+ (WW) - 5
$500M+ (WW) - 1

Box Office (BO) Clout is a star's ability to deliver $100M+ films. This determines the star's momentum and achievements. You can argue that art is more important than money in films, and you can argue that there's a lot more involved in a film's success than the stars (direction, story elements, etc.), and you'd be right. But BO Clout at least tracks the star's momentum in the area where studios care ($) and their overall ability to land the right roles.

Here are all the Vin Diesel films:

On the way:
- Hannibal the Conquerer (2011)
- Riddick Sequel
- xXx Sequel
- The Machine
- The Wheelman

4/29/11 - Fast Five - Univ.
$203,879,000 (US) - $576,754,829 (WW)

4/03/09 - Fast & Furious - Univ.
$155,064,265 (US) - $363,064,265 (WW)

8/29/08 - Babylon A.D. - Fox
$22,532,572 (US) - $70,216,497 (WW)

3/17/06 - Find Me Guilty - YFG
$1,173,643 (US) - $1,788,077 (WW)

3/4/05 - The Pacifier - BV (Disney)
$113,086,868 (US) - $198,006,880 (WW)

6/11/04 - The Chronicles of Riddick - Univ.
$57,761,012 (US) - $107,212,751 (WW)

4/4/03 - A Man Apart - NL
$26,736,098 (US) - $44,114,828 (WW)

10/11/02 - Knockaround Guys - NL
$11,715,637 (US) - $12,419,700 (WW)

8/9/02 - xXx - SonR
$142,109,382 (US) - $267,200,000 (WW)

6/22/01 - The Fast and the Furious - Univ.
$144,533,925 (US) - $206,512,310 (WW)

2/18/00 - Pitch Black - USA
$39,240,659 (US) - $53,182,088 (WW)

2/18/00 - Boiler Room - NL
$16,970,581 (US) - $28,773,637 (WW)

8/3/99 - The Iron Giant (Voice) - WB
$23,159,305 (US) - $31,333,917 (WW)

7/24/98 - Saving Private Ryan - DW
$216,540,909 (US) - $481,635,085 (WW)



Vin Diesel is riding Fast and Furious (he has for the last two FF films). It's helped bring him back from the realm of the forgotten.

What originally happened was that he became successful quickly with Private Ryan, Pitch Black, F&F, and xXx. Then he decided he could line up a Riddick film, go do his own thing, try dramatic acting, be a blockbuster star, and didn't need the F&F and xXx sequels. So he wasn't in F&F2, xXx2 (although Sammy Jackson came back), and Vin only cameo'd in F&F3.

But by that time he only managed to pull a line drive out of the Pacifier and that's it. His hits were dry. So the F&F franchise needed him (and Walker) back, and they both needed hits. So they went at F&F4 hard, brought the actors back, upped the effects and action, and it paid off as the top F&F. So they decided to step it up even more for F&F5. They added The Rock, brought Tyrese Gibson back (from F&F2), added Ludacris, and kept it as fast and furious as possible. They found the right combination, and Fast Five made $200M (US) and $500M (WW), which turned it into a gold franchise, starting this year.

My point of saying that, is that because it is now a gold franchise, they should keep at it.

Vin seems to have his act together now. He realizes he needs the hits and the sequels in order to make bank and push his career. He's proven that by coming back and doing two F&F films, and helping the franchise to new levels. He's also going to try to do the same (make hit franchises) with Riddick (first attempt was Pitch Black and then Chronicles of Riddick; I hope they try harder this time), with xXx (Ice Cube couldn't pull it off), and with some new material that could work: Wheelman (self explanatory), Hannibal (getting historical), and The Machine (robot time).

So I wish Vin Diesel the best with his revamped Box Office strategy. He's definitely headed in the right direction. However, he needs to keep his head on his shoulders and shouldn't abandon franchises if they can help him make money and push his career (like I said, Paul Walker didn't abandon F&F2 and Samuel L. Jackson didn't abandon xXx2). So just remember, Vin, you're just a man, you can't make hits out of thin air, and you should stay loyal to your fans if you expect them to stay loyal to you. If they want a xXx2, then that's what you give them. You make it bigger and better and give them what they want, even if you'd rather move on.

Which comes to my second point of advice (other than not making the same mistakes he made when he abandoned xXx and F&F): F&F is now a global franchise. The people want a sixth one, and they want it to be just as big. So I'd get on board for a sixt F&F, get as many of the actors in as you can, add one or two more names if you lose any (maybe a woman, like Angelina Jolie, Meagan Fox or insert an action chick name here), push the locations (maybe visit another country), and push the effects (design some sweet sequences and see how you can fit them into the story, which is pretty much Matrix Reloaded if you think about it).


- The Emperor

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