Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

March 5, 2013

CALLERI: When bad things happen to good filmmakers

Niagara Gazette — Director Bryan Singer has a solid reputation in Hollywood. He’s talented, clever, and gets his movies finished on-time and within budget. Singer’s made fast-paced action films such as “X-Men,” “Superman Returns” and “Valkyrie.” He’s also got a controversial “art” picture under his belt, the fascinating and beautifully acted “Apt Pupil,” which stars Ian McKellen and the late Brad Renfro. It's based on a novel by Stephen King. And if the dream of every director is to be remembered for a classic cult movie, Singer’s entry in that field, “The Usual Suspects,” is one of the great ones. It was released in 1995 when he was 30-years old.

Now 47, Singer is one of only three directors to make three live-action adaptations of a comic book series. The others are Sam Raimi with the Spider-Man films and Christopher Nolan with his Batman features.

Singer has a fourth X-Men coming in 2014 (“X-Men: Days Of Future Past”). However, 2013 has not started well. He’s a good filmmaker, but even good filmmakers get caught in the revolving door that is the bane of working on big budget adventure movies for the major studios. His newest effort, “Jack The Giant Slayer,” is a dud.

Based on the children’s fable, “Jack And The Beanstalk,” you see clearly that its weaknesses are not as much Singer’s fault as they are the fault of the ego-driven players in the executive offices who called the shots and of the marketing people who promoted the movie poorly. Although, I can’t imagine how you could promote this picture in a positive way.

You justifiably wonder where its $190-million production budget went? It certainly isn't up on the screen. The movie looks cheap, with shoddy special effects. Too much of the visual “art” looks artificial. Unimpressive and fake. Add $80-million for publicity and promotion, and you’ve got a $270-million dollar fairy tale with no sense of wonder about it, and scant hope of recouping its stunning cost.

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