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Daily Reads: How Franchise Sequels Became Cover Bands, Why Hollywood Can’t Make ‘The Dark Tower,’ and More

Daily Reads: How Franchise Sequels Became Cover Bands, Why Hollywood Can't Make 'The Dark Tower,' and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Is VHS Making a Comeback? Cinephiles, collectors, and academics are desperately trying to save VHS from going to that farm upstate where all the dying mediums end up. The Telegraph’s Helen O’Hara explores the potential for a VHS revival. 

By some estimates as many as 50% of films available on VHS have not ever been released on DVD, and lots more cover art — some hand-drawn, some lurid, but all emblematic of an era—– risks being lost forever. Video collector Dale Lloyd, who runs the Midland-based Viva VHS, adds, “It’s not just the films. A lot of the trailers that play beforehand are extremely sought after and could be lost forever if not preserved.” Lloyd curates selections of trailers to screen at the Good Bad Film Club at London’s Prince Charles Cinema, and in March ran a pop-up rental operation called Video Palace as part of Birmingham’s Flatpack Film Festival. For him, it’s the chance to discover new films that is key to his collection.

2. How Hollywood Learned to Love the Sequel. The summer movie season is here, which means theaters will soon be flooded with the obligatory onslaught of Hollywood sequels. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich analyzes how audiences’ franchise optimism has affected Hollywood’s approach to sequels.

“[Jurassic] World” and “[Terminator:] Genisys” are clearly trying to remind you of how much you loved the earlier, better films; so it’s weird that, even in trailer form, they both feature elements that can only remind you of the later, badder films. “Genisys” features copious scenes of the future apocalypse — the setting for 2009’s “Terminator Salvation,” which was like the “Saving Private Ryan” D-Day sequence remade as a Limp Bizkit video. And “World’s” main selling point, beyond clear visual references to the original movie, is the notion of a Bigger, Badder Dinosaur — which was also the selling point of “Jurassic Park III.” (Indominus is the new Spinosaurus.)

3. Check out this “Mr. Show” superfan quiz. Hey everybody, it’s Bob and David! And they’re coming back to TV… on Netflix… sponsored by GloboChem! Over at Vulture, Abraham Riesman created the ultimate “Mr. Show” quiz for all the intense fans out there.

2. What was the “Mr. Show” creators’ nickname for the slobby recurring character Bob Odenkirk played in such sketches as the argument in the doughnut shop?

3. Who was the director of the moving war film “Hell in a Handbasket”?

4. Which two episodes have titles that are not phrases used in the episodes themselves?

4. Why Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” Is So Hard to Make Into a Movie. Sony Pictures recently announced it will adapt Stephen King’s epic “Dark Tower” series into a film trilogy and a TV series. Esquire’s Nick Schager examines the difficult history of adapting King’s famed set of novels. 

Boasting its own specialized language and an immense roster of characters led by Roland’s sidekicks Jake, Susannah Dean (a wheelchair-bound African-American woman from the 1960s with a split personality), Eddie Dean (a junkie from the 1980s with a knack for sharpshooting), and their pet Oy, the novels deliver a barrage of show-stopping set pieces involving (to name only a few) a sentient train, a cyborg bear, and none other than Stephen King himself. To put it bluntly: “The Dark Tower is gargantuan. And gargantuan in a way that isn’t easily condensable. While each novel might, on its own terms, lend itself to minor abbreviations — an encounter cut here, a diversion shortened there — there’s no way to fundamentally get rid of, or even effectively skim over, any of the seven official novels. A possible exception to that rule might be “Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass,” which functions as one long flashback to Roland’s youthful familial and romantic dramas. Yet even ditching “Wizard and Glass” would entail casting off so much of Roland’s backstory that his motivations, and the basic nature of his character, would seriously suffer in the process.

5. The Original “Flash” TV Series Was Never as Fast as it Needed to Be. With the recent success of The CW’s “The Flash,” it’s easy to forget that it’s actually not the first television adaptation of “The Flash.” The A.V. Club’s Zack Handlen looks back at the missteps and the occasional bright spots of the original “Flash” series.

The popularity of Burton’s “Batman” apparently led this series’ creators (Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo) to the mistaken impression that the best way to handle Barry and his world was to mimic “Batman’s” gothic shadings. The resulting Central City exists in a perpetual cultural twilight, trapped between 1955 and 1985 in a way that could be fascinating, but is really just messy. While Danny Elfman’s theme music is appropriately thrilling, the action spends too much time bogged down in shadow. In a design approach so relentless it borders on surreal, nearly every location is marked by a grotesque, visually distracting mural. It’s a strong choice, no question, but lacks a single vision to unify the whole, unlike the version of Burton’s Gotham City. It often looks as though every artistic decision was made independently of every other decision, resulting in an ugly, occasionally hilarious mess.

6. The Jokes That Made Adam Sandler’s Native American Actors Walk Off Set. The script for Adam Sandler’s new film has plenty of unfunny, offensive jokes about Native Americans. Defamer’s Jordan Sargent takes a look at some of the jokes that caused Native actors to walk off the set.

The scenes that caused the Native actors to leave the set appear to happen within the first 15 minutes or so of the film. Extra Loren Anthony, who spoke to Indian Country Today, described a scene involving a character named Beaver’s Breath as being particularly irritating to the extras: “One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says ‘Hey, Beaver’s Breath.’ And the Native woman says, ‘How did you know my name?'”

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