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David Poland

By David Poland

Is This The Single Worst Idea In History?

Wow… when Michael Fleming scoops, he comes up with some craaaaazy shit.
Rob Marshall directing the fourth Pirates movie for Disney.
I mean… mind boggling… truly… it takes my breath away.
In what sick, demented universe would a company like Disney put a guy who has never shot action, never directed anything bigger than a stage, and is struggling with an overlong cut of his third film right now after one hit – Chicago – and one utter flop – Memoirs of a Geisha in charge of their billion-dollar-gross-a-film franchise? Is it really down to this? Is Johnny Depp trying to destroy his meal ticket so he won’t have to put on the pirate’s cap ever again?
I wish Rob Marshall well. If anyone can help him get Nine into shape for a successful Oscar and box office run, it’s Harvey Weinstein, who has a bad rep for overcutting good films, but deserves a lot of credit for being about to fix problem films as well as any producer ever has.
But Pirates 4?
McG for Terminator Salvation at least made some sense. I can only assume that Disney is looking at the Harry Potter series and David Yates coming in to handle the last four films of the series to success so far. But Yates had a lot more experience as a director than Marshall does. And the Potter franchise has a lot of chiefs in place who haven’t changed. Pirates, for which Gore Verbinski did not get enough credit because Depp charmed so intensively, requires some real imagination. I mean, will every action sequence dissolve into a memory that Captain Jack Sparrow has of a dance number in a musical hall somewhere?
Really… if someone at a party told me that I couldn’t guess in a million years who would be directing the next Pirates movie and gave me 100 guesses, somewhere around guess 47, I would, in exhaustion, perhaps choke out Rob Marshall’s name with a laugh because wouldn’t that be funny. Paul WS Anderson is more qualified. And Dominic Sena would probably do a much better job, just letting Bruckheimer tell him what to do.
Is this an April Fool’s joke? Come on… someone… tell me… it’s a joke… right? Gotta be… right?

40 Responses to “Is This The Single Worst Idea In History?”

  1. Rob says:

    Seriously, 8 fucking hours of “saga” based on a theme park ride wasn’t enough? I struggled to stay awake during Dead Man’s Chest and probably couldn’t pass a test on the plot. Can anyone who saw At World’s End explain what nagging questions have been left unanswered?

  2. yancyskancy says:

    Rob: Of course the nagging unanswered question is, as always, can we wring some more bucks out of this thing?
    I’ve actually rather enjoyed Marshall’s films, but yes, he is an odd choice. But sometimes when you get a director out of his wheelhouse he surprises you.

  3. Wrecktum says:

    Makes as much sense as putting Mike Newell in charge of a Harry Potter movie. Wait a minute!

  4. Telemachos says:

    I guess Disney figures they’ll have the 2nd unit directors take care of the bulk of the action, and have Marshall focus on the actors? I dunno, still doesn’t make sense. Used to be, for a mega-production, you’d get — at the very least — a solid action veteran who could deal with the scale and scope of it all (McTiernan, maybe, or Phil Noyce), or maybe some wunderkund visual stylist out of music videos to give it an whole new look and feel (like Tarsem or Fincher, back in the day).
    Marshall is neither of these. He’s sort of a nothing director, IMHO, especially outside a musical number. He’s like Ron Howard-lite, except even Ron Howard has done movies way beyond Marshall’s scope.

  5. Krazy Eyes says:

    Hey, they could have hired Rob Cohen. I think that would be a worse idea.

  6. martin says:

    I agree, I can’t conceive this rumor is true. Nothing against Marshall who I think is a talented director, but I just don’t think Disney would choose him for this job, doesn’t make much sense unless he really campaigned for it and like agreed to a small fee/no backend. I agree that even WS Anderson would make more sense for the film. It is movie 4 though, so maybe no one gives a shit anymore.

  7. martin says:

    I disagree on Cohen, he was developing a Pirate movie with Reeves that he seemed to have a real passion for. I think Cohen would have been a pretty decent choice here.

  8. The Big Perm says:

    Getting Rob Marshall means they DO give a shit. Not giving a shit would be hiring Paul Anderson, who you bring in to make a b-movie and get it made relatively cheaply and not have to worry about any kind of artistic ambition getting in the way.
    I could see this being true…how many action movies did Marc Forster direct before he got offered Quantum of SOlace?

  9. don lewis (was PetalumaFilms) says:

    I could technically give 2 shits about this overwrought, boring cash cow franchise, but isn’t Verbinski’s pre-POTC creds similar to Marshalls’ only Verbinski never got an Oscar nod?
    All Verbinski did of note was “The Ring” and “The Mexican” was a much more floppy flop than “Memoirs of a Geisha” and it starred Brad Pitt AND Julia Roberts! You seem to have an AICN type grudge against Marshall, DP…

  10. LexG says:

    Dissenting opinion (not that I care much):
    The POTCs aren’t much (other than Keira’s infernal hotness), but they deserve better than a one-note choreographer/NON-DIRECTOR like Rob Marshall.

  11. LYT says:

    I haven’t liked Marshall’s movies, but they demonstrate that he knows his production design and choreography pretty well.
    Aside from Depp, who doesn’t need much direction, what else is there in a Pirates movie?
    I’d prefer Marcus Nispel, though. Pathfinder would have been great if it had had anything resembling a script.

  12. Wrecktum says:

    I bet Marshall would KICK ASS choreographing piraty sword fights.

  13. David Poland says:

    What is “an AICN type grudge,” Don?
    The guy is three movies in, has never handled anything with effects, has only done one non-musical and it wasn’t good… and you hand him a film with billion dollar expectations? And your best response is that I am making this a personal issue for some unknown reason?
    I would say they were batshit crazy if they gave the job to a great director, like Paul Thomas Anderson. I would say they were crazy if they handed it to Marc Forster, who didn’t do well with Bond even though the franchise is producer-driven, not director-driven. I would say they were crazy of they handed it to Soderbergh… unlike Moneyball… because he clearly has no interest in making any movies – including the Ocean’s – that are meant for ages 6 and up.
    And no, the resumes have little in common. Verbinski’s Mouse Hunt was a terrific little family action-y thing with high cartoon style that suggested what would come in Pirates. And The Ring was a genre hit. Nothing on Marshall’s resume suggests he would be a good choice for either of those movies… or of Pirates 4.

  14. Nicol D says:

    “I guess Disney figures they’ll have the 2nd unit directors take care of the bulk of the action,…”
    So sad but probably true. Which is why I can never fully trash Spielberg for Crystal Skull. It has flaws but he still knows how to choreograph a large scale action scene on his own. Sure some 2nd unit stuff is shot, but Spielberg still is the author of the widescreen action compositions.
    Too many new directors do not get this and rely on the ever reliable disjointed shakey cam for action. Even Nolan had to do better with The Dark Knight than he did with Batman Begins. Someone like Michael Bay falls in the middle. He relies a lot on coverage, but you do get a sense he knows how to block the action (even if you do not like the whole film).
    I love Chicago…maybe he can pull this off.

  15. The Big Perm says:

    Marshall may not have a genre resume but he directed an Oscar winning movie, and that buys a whole shitload of cred. I’d say maybe there isn’t such a huge difference directing an art-directed type of musical vs an art-directed action movie.
    I think the main problem people had with Quantum was the action scenes, which Forster didn’t direct anyway. I’ve been on a few sets during action stuff and I never saw the director around at all. Second unit shot the whole thing. I don’t know specifically about the Bourne movies, but it looks like even those action scenes were totally directed by second unit, hence the similarity to Quantum (same team). So Marshall just needs to direct the talky talky stuff, just like he did on Chicago, and then let second unit handle half of the movie.
    You could say why hand Ang Lee The Hulk…he hadn’t done anything like that before. But then you can point out Crouching Tiger…but Wo Ping directed those fight scenes…Ang said he tried getting involved but realized he wasn’t that great at it and let Wo Ping do his thing.
    I agree with Nicol on Bay…if the man could actually have any taste in scripts, he would be a great action director. Bad Boys 2 had excellent excellent action scenes. It was the other 90 minute’s worth of bullshit comedy that made that movie so awful.

  16. Telemachos says:

    Michael Bay, the world’s greatest 2nd Unit Director. Damning with faint praise, but it’s praise none-the-less.
    Nicol, in addition to Spielberg, I’d put Cameron (of course) and Mann, and perhaps someone like Kathryn Bigelow as others who can handle large-scale mayhem and still give the audience a clear sense of who is where; the “geography” of the scene, basically. It’s a skill that used to be far more common than it is now, unfortunately. (Think of what a seasoned pro like McTiernen could do with a POTC-style budget.)

  17. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Disney must know the Weinstein Co. is close to collapse, otherwise the Mouse House wouldn’t ask Rob Marshall to direct POTC4.
    If the Weinstein Co. winds up in Chapter 11 — or even in liquidation — it’ll be a long time before “Nine” gets released.
    BTW “The Ring” was more than a genre hit. See it once and you’ll never want anything to do with VHS again.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    I agree, Bay stages great scenes. But he needs someone else to deal with the actors and the editing.

  19. leahnz says:

    it’s called being a DoP

  20. I too loved Mouse Hunt. Saw it on opening weekend in a not terribly crowded theater. It was myself and several families. Oddly, the grownups (and my 17-year old self) were laughing our asses off, but the kids seemed kinda bored.

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Chucky – honestly asking for clarity this time – how do the Weinsteins’ problems have anything to do with Disney possibly hiring Marshall? I don’t see a logical connection. TWC collapsing somehow makes Disney want to hire him? Huh?

  22. LexG says:

    JESUS CHRIST, could we have the Bay argument a FEW THOUSAND MORE TIMES with the same people THROWING AROUND THE SAME GODDAMN ARGUMENT?
    While you’re at it, how about you all tell me about how bad GIGLI was, or Showgirls, or how much Schumacher fucked up Batman, or FUNNY The Happening was, or Wicker Man?
    Same goddamn film geek arguments, always following the T-POINTS down to the letter.
    Someone surprise me with an original take on Bay or any of that shit and you’ll have my FULL FUCKING ATTENTION, but if I have to McDouche tersely restate his SAME BULLSHIT ARGUMENT for the goddamn ZILLIONTH TIME, I’m gonna throw my monitor like Paul fucking Crewe.
    Doubly ironic since McDouche likes to call out IO, me, Nicol and Chucky for repeating ourselves, when he rehashes the same smug shit 10,000,000 times an hour.
    I’ll bet he’s sitting there SHAKING AND TWITCHING LIKE HUMPTY HUMP all day at his new INTERNET-LESS job wondering what’s going down on the Hot Blog and where he can work in his stupid Bay rants.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Showgirls is actually pretty good.

  24. martin says:

    Probably redundant, but Bay does not use 2nd units on his films. He takes pride in the fact that everything is shot with his team under his direction.
    I dont have an issue with Jeff’s content, the problem is that most every comment is in the same sartorial tone.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Do you maybe mean ‘sardonic’?
    But otherwise, sorry. I don’t mean to be monotone. Lex’s cut-and-paste rants and Nicol’s boilerplate smugness are definitely elements I want to avoid here.

  26. LexG says:

    Sartorial, sardonic…
    I think what he meant was “DOUCHE.”

  27. Fair enough. Gigli wasn’t that bad, Showgirls was an experiment and Schumacher’s Batman films, while flawed, have a through linear story that works to conclude the story set up by Burton in the first Batman. Basically, in the last two films, Bruce Wayne gives up the ghosts of the past and now must learn how to plan for a future that he never anticipated. He ends up happy and sane because he now has a family of his own and a legacy that Thomas, Martha, and Alfred would be proud of. The Bruce Wayne story arc (especially with deleted footage from Batman Forever) works pretty well, but the villain stuff (especially in Batman & Robin) is what weakens the third film and eventually kills the fourth.

  28. The Big Perm says:

    Yeah, Showgirls was fun! The Happening wasn;t funny, it was just kind of sad. After Signs I thought Shamalayan could do no wrong, but now I don’t even see his movies in the theater anymore. He went crazy.
    Maybe Lex has some original and interesting insights on Michael Bay?

  29. Wrecktum says:

    I just read somewhere that Michael Bay’s next movie is going to star Fred Durst and Kristen Stewart. Is that true???

  30. The Big Perm says:


  31. I agree with Scott in all of those things.
    In regards to the topic at hand, well… I don’t like it. I have an image of what I want Rob Marshall to be as a director of films and directing PotC4 is not it.
    But, really, this film seems shaky from the outset. No Keira, no Orlando, No Verbinsky. And reeks of desperation. Although at least Chucky will be please because they’re certainly not going to put “From the Academy Award-winning Director of Chicago” on the Pirates ads.

  32. IOIOIOI says:

    Pirates 4 is supposed to be set in revolutionary America. So, really, why not go with a dude who knows how to use set pieces and choreography in terms of a new film? It’s not really stupid, and he used effects a lot on his films. Leave it to Beardy McGee over there to ignore the freakin credits of a film.
    Even if he uses second unit a lot. He could probably pull it off. Why they do not hand it off to Turtlebaum is beyond me, but stop the hating. Let’s see what he can do, or how bad he can fuck it up.

  33. Hallick says:

    It may be the single worst idea in history. But the double worst idea in history is bringing Depp back to play Captain Jack one_more_fucking_time.

  34. IOIOIOI says:

    If you have a story. Tell the story. People love Captain Jack, and he deserves a better ending. Seriously, he needs a better ending. At World’s End is bloody terrible, and I like that film! HIYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  35. don lewis (was PetalumaFilms) says:

    Again, Dave….what did Verbinski to that warranted a CHANCE at the franchise?? The director matters not, although I remember a sneak peak rave you got when you saw Davey “snooze” Jones in full regale.
    Are you going to bat for someone AICN style or are you so out of touch that boring, cash cow franchise directors matter?? If it’s the latter, don’t tell Harry Potter and James Bond to watch out for hacks infringing on their turf.

  36. The Big Perm says:

    IO, they don’t have an interesting story they want to tell. They just want to make another billion dollars.

  37. IOIOIOI says:

    Biggie, money is always a factor, but Captain Jack in Revolutionary America is interesting to me. So let them make their billions, and may the film be more concise than AWE.

  38. Cadavra says:

    Hey, if the guy who made MEMENTO can go on to do THE DARK KNIGHT, nothing’s impossible. Just sayin’.

  39. jeffmcm says:

    ? I don’t get that because for me, Memento remains Nolan’s best film, and it sounds, Cadavra, like you don’t care for it? Weird.

  40. jeffmcm says:

    Never mind – I see what you get. Insomnia in the middle was a good stepping stone, though – and a better intermediary step than Marshall has had, probably.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin