Monday, May 2, 2016

Reel Facts & Opinions: Reagan and the Justice League

Last week, as explored by Reel Speak HERE, the news came out that comedy actor Will Ferrell was set to play former President Ronald Reagan in what was being dubbed as the first “Alzheimer’s comedy”; in which Reagan, as President, falls into dementia and an intern is given the task of convincing him that he is an actor playing the President in a movie. Today, following outcry from the Reagan family and every other person on the internet with an opinion, it has been reported that Ferrell is stepping away from the project.

Despite the controversial take, the unproduced script, entitled REAGAN, has long been considered to be one of the top unproduced scripts in Hollywood. The outrage from the Reagan family is certainly understandable, but hopefully this isn’t a sign of Hollywood losing their balls. Controversy is nothing new to the film industry; as far back as 1915, D.W. Griffith’s A BIRTH OF A NATION caused uproar over its stereotypical depiction of African-Americans, and in 1932, FREAKS was criticized for casting real-life human oddities in its sideshow-performing story. And let’s not forget other controversial films in the past 50 years, such as THE EXORCIST (1973), FACES OF DEATH (1978), ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968), THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988), and THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004).

Granted, Ferrell’s film was a comedy and probably far from reaching the classic status of THE EXORCIST or ROSEMARY’S BABY, but the one thing it does have in common is that it involves a sensitive issue. Hollywood has always given alternate takes on religion, race, politics, and like it or not…disease. Ferrell’s decision to walk away from REAGAN will probably kill the project, so in looking back at Hollywood’s long history, the question is…what is off-limits and what isn’t? Where is the line drawn? And when will filmmakers take a stand and make their movie no matter who gets offended? The debate will undoubtedly rage on.


In other news, the Zack Snyder-directed superhero battle royale BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is nearing the end of its theatrical run, and the film looks to finish up as the seventh highest grossing superhero film at the worldwide box office, with $829 million gross. The Warner Brothers produced adaptation of the two most famed DC Comics characters will finish as the 11th highest comic book film in the United States, and in this year, will not beat out the Fox production of the lesser-known comic character, DEADPOOL…which was released in February.

A figure like $829 million seems respectable, but Warner Brothers had their sights set a lot higher for what they were considering to be the ultimate superhero film. After all, the anticipation for DAWN OF JUSTICE had been building for years, well before it was officially announced, and the two most iconic characters of all time, Batman and Superman…were meeting on-screen for the very first time. The cold hard fact is the movie was not very good (read Reel Speak’s review HERE), and the public responded. If you want to do better, make a better goddamn movie.

But the hits just kept on coming for Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder, who are now into production on JUSTICE LEAGUE, a film which will reunite Bats and Supes…and bring along a host of other super-powered characters from the vast DC Comics lore. Over the weekend came a report that Snyder and Warners were banging heads over JUSTICE LEAGUE…and even worse, the director of THE FLASH movie, Seth Grahame-Smith, had quit.

There seems to be a solid state of chaos over at the Warner Brothers offices. Long-time fans of DC Comics would probably be happy to see Snyder get booted off JUSTICE LEAGUE and never let near another comic property again, but unfortunately, with JUSTICE LEAGUE already into filming, it seems that train has already left the station. Hopefully once all of the nonsense quiets down and the adults have a chance to talk, some compromise can be made and we all can have a good movie with the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.


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