Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hollywood Hiding the Nerd

Today I came across something that baffled me. I don't watch a lot of television, but have been aware of the existence of Season of the Witch. Here was my impression:

Stars Nicolas Cage as Nicolas Cage as every other character he has ever played, this time with a sword and some shit on him. Looks like Braveheart, but certainly it is different.

I don't dislike Nic Cage or his films. In fact, aside from perhaps National Treasure, I think they are enjoyable. Cage playing Fu-Manchu in Rob Zombie's faux trailer for Werewolf Women of the S.S. certainly earned him some points. The man obviously loves Christopher Lee (with the whole Wicker Man thing and all), and that is sometimes all it takes. But I digress.

So, I am trolling around the internet (that's trolling like the fishing term, not going on message boards and being a dick), and I come across a bit about Ron Pearlman being in the pre-production of Lovecraft classic At the Mountains of Madness which is being directed by Guillermo del Toro, the man who did Hellboy II and Pan's Labyrinth. Awesome, right? I know! In the same article I find that Perlman is also in Season of the Witch, as is Christopher Lee. If this is not the creepiest Christopher Lee image I have seen, I'll kiss Glen Beck's ass.

So what is the movie supposedly about?

A 14th century Crusader returns to a homeland devastated by the Black Plague. A beleaguered church, deeming sorcery the culprit of the plague, commands the two knights to transport an accused witch to a remote abbey, where monks will perform a ritual in hopes of ending the pestilence. A priest, a grieving knight, a disgraced itinerant and a headstrong youth who can only dream of becoming a knight join a mission troubled by mythically hostile wilderness and fierce contention over the fate of the girl. When the embattled party arrives at the abbey, a horrific discovery jeopardises the knight's pledge to ensure the girl fair treatment, and pits them against an inexplicably powerful and destructive force. [source]

Well, that is a little better. Why, though, are they not selling the (to me) obvious nerd qualities of the film? We are the one's playing D&D, and there are only so many sword and sorcery films being made these days. Sell it to us. The norms don't care. They are either going to a Nicolas Cage film or they are not. I think nerds (or geeks, if you prefer) have to be sold on big Hollywood films, even when they are specifically for us. TRON: Legacy is a perfect example. I see no positive chatter on the webs about it or Season of the Witch. Now, granted, I am not the best blog consumer, but certainly these films should be in my face much more often. Remember when Watchmen was being released? Cheesus, you couldn't go on a blog without reading about it. Why? I think they actually sold that one to us. They failed with Season of the Witch and TRON: Legacy, I think. The TRON commercials are obviously meant to impart coolness with its techno-rock and overly Matrix-y feel, and Season of the Witch does not seem to have any character.

Now, Hollywood is really bad about properly selling a movie. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a film because the wife wanted to see it and left thinking, "where did that come from?" Often it is for the better, but why not sell the actual film, especially to us. Nerds are the most ardent lovers of film, and if you can get us to love something we will love it forever; Star Wars, Star Trek, Logan's Run, Flash Gordon, Conan the Barbarian. These are not all great, but they were unashamed about being nerd movies or television. Then look at the two discussed here, and I will remind you of a little film called Pathfinder that was 100% a nerd movie, but they sold it to the douchebags. I only saw it because I loved Karl Urban as Doctor McCoy. I actually enjoyed it, but otherwise would have never given it a second glance.

Hollywood, please, get it together. There are a multitude of us out here who spend an inordinate amount of disposable and not-so-disposable income on the things we are into. I just spent $10 on old Teela and Evil-Lyn Master of the Universe figures. That $10 could have been yours if you had just made me want to see Season of the Witch.


Lisa K. said...

Maybe they are afraid that if the film comes across as 'too nerdy', the normal consumer will not be interested in it anymore. As in: This movie is too uncool for me, the kids who play D&D watch it...
It has some kind of high school attitude to it.
But then again I think Hollywood should NOT be afraid of this, because I personally think that a lot of people consume films like fast food, which bothers me when it comes to my favourite ones. In fact I fucking hate it. Sitting in the cinema and some idiot next to me, who has no clue about what the film is about- the genre, the feeling to it- he complaints about it the whole time and I just really want to punch him. And I am in no way someone one would call a hardcore nerd or a nerd at all. So I can only imagine what others who are way older and more dedicated to the 'nerd culture' are feeling :D
In the end it is of course about the profit. I am not enough involved into the topic to say whether Hollywood would make more or less profit IF they were more focused on 'the Nerds'. But regarding all the conventions (most famous comic con) everyone knows that there is a lot of money to gain :D

I really don't know... maybe it is also up to the director / producer / studio constellation. Well, well, Hollywood.

Darius Whiteplume said...

My two worst film-going experience, one of which has little to with this conversation, happened in college. I saw Schindler's List at the student union and most everyone was there for Western Civ credit. They groaned through the whole thing, especially when the projectionist ran some reels out of order, then corrected it extending the run time by about 40 minutes. Next was at the same theater to see Tim Burton's Ed Wood, which people hated. Me and the girl sitting in front of me seemed to be the only ones there to see the film and not just kill time cheaply.

As far as the nerd dollar goes, I think it is plain that it is a way to turn a profit, it is just getting us interested in an unestablished vehicle or a reboot. Like the rebooted Star Trek, which I did enjoy, but it was definitely more for mass-consumption than just for fans. The original cast films was quite enough fan-service for most people.

I'll have to do a Blogger search for Season of the Witch and see what I find. I'll undoubtedly see it, eventually, I just want to see if I am taking out my ass or not :-D

Darius Whiteplume said...

Quick note: almost every post I found through a Google search "season of the witch" came up as a trailer, a "watch free online" or was a reference to Halloween 2. Wow. Maybe I do have my finger on the pulse of the world's nerds?

Kal said...

Nic Cage should never do movies, especially historical roles, because he is not talented enough to be believable in those kind of movies. He can do comedy and over the top stuff like 'Kick Ass' but should leave movies like this to someone else.

Darius Whiteplume said...

He's kind of like George Clooney, in that he's always himself. I like both of them. I'll watch Moonstruck any day of the week. I don't want to blaspheme here, but some of the greats like Paul Newman always kind of played themselves.

I do get the feeling that Cage in this one will be like Costner in Robin Hood, but I think I'll likely enjoy it.

Bubbashelby said...

Great points all, especially this part: "Nerds are the most ardent lovers of film, and if you can get us to love something we will love it forever"

God that is so true.

Darius Whiteplume said...

We are like the old school country music fans of film and tv. All Tammy Wynette ever needed was "Stand By Your Man" to have fans forever (her work with George Jones is good, btw).

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