Opinion Blog: I Hope You Weren’t Planning to Spend Your Summer Outdoors…

April 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Chase Cusack

They loom over us, casting a welcoming shadow. We seek refuge from the sweltering summer heat by rushing into the giant air conditioned chambers provided by AMC and Cinemark. They are the summer tent poles, and we’re only weeks away from the first release.

May marks the beginning of the summer movie season, and every year the major studios eagerly await the box office returns from their biggest investments. Productions costs of the typical blockbuster range between $100 and $200 million, a staggering number that grows even higher once you tack on the huge sums used to market the films.

The original Iron Man raked in almost $600 million worldwide which bodes well for the imaginatively titled sequel, Iron Man 2. Robert Downey Jr. will return to the role that reignited his career and face a new enemy, Whiplash, who is portrayed by another actor making an eerily similar comeback in Hollywood, Mickey Rourke.

The brilliant casting and performances in the first film were enough to overcome the poor direction by John Favreau and resulted in an enjoyable, yet disappointing, experience. But now that the bland origin story is out of the way, I think the introduction of new villains will spice things up. On May 7 audiences will surely flock to the theater, hammers in hand, and start the summer off by smashing some box office records.

Up next comes a modern adaptation of one of the greatest legends in English folklore, Robin Hood. On May 14, the fifth collaboration of Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott promises a grittier version of the classic hero that will focus more on sword play and less on the tights.

Crowe’s last two films State of Play and Body of Lies were serious financial disappointments. Both Play and Lies had political storylines, and neither of them were released in the summer. Hood will look to recapture the feel of another epic period piece that was released in May a decade ago, Gladiator.

Be careful when that final school bell rings, a smelly obese ogre will be waiting for you! DreamWorks Animation will release the fourth (even though it feels like the 14th) film in the series, Shrek Forever After on May 21. You can’t blame the studio for releasing a sequel to a franchise that has made them over $2 billion dollars worldwide… but I can.

With the release of How to Train Your Dragon earlier this year, the studio showed that new ideas can be met with both commercial and critical success. Remakes, reboots, and sequels have made studios lazy. Remember, this is a medium that is supposed to be about storytelling.

And you’re not off the hook either Pixar! The pristine studio’s next two releases are Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. With the success of original works like The Incredibles, Rattatouille, Wall E, and UP, you’d think they wouldn’t feel a need to expand upon older films.

Ranting aside, I’ll finally touch on a movie-going segment that is often underestimated, but proved their strength in the summer of 2008. That’s right ladies, order a Cosmo, and head to the theater on May 27 for Sex in the City 2.

The film picks up where we left off with Carrie as a newlywed, but things take a turn when… ok, I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I’m pretty sure you’ve already decided if you’re going to see this movie.

These are but a few of the films that kick off the relentless onslaught of releases between May and August. And if I could only pick one, I’d have to hedge my bets on Inception. If you haven’t heard anything about it yet, well, all I’m going to say is, come July 16, you will.

Opinion Blog: The Season Is Over, But The Mustangs Are Just Revving Up

February 24, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Chase Cusack

You’re probably not going to believe it. You know the huge horseshoe that sits on the south side of campus? It’s the one that is often awash in artificial light and has a Shetland pony running around inside of it. Well, in the coming years it will be filled. No, not with cement or leftover Bush Library documents, but with -gasp- students!

That’s right, Ford Stadium is going to be to Saturdays what Home Bar is to Thursday nights. Head coach June Jones has given Mustang fans something that has been missing for a long time. Hope.

The 2009 season has been well documented. Eight unbelievable wins, being the biggest underdog out of all the bowl games, having the largest margin of victory in any bowl game, 25 years since this, 25 years since that. But December seems like so long ago, and the typical sports culture subscribes to the “What have you done for me lately?” belief.  But last season was only the first domino to fall, and it has set off a chain reaction.

SMU’s 2010 recruiting class is the best the school has seen in decades. It includes 16 three-star players according to Rivals.com. The 2007 class, the year before Jones arrived, had just four.

“I haven’t had a class like this in any of my 10 years in college football,” said Jones. If a quote like that doesn’t get you excited, then you’re probably not a college football fan. But that’s ok, because if Jones has his way, you will be one soon.

The Mustang faithful may not be waving “BCS or Bust!” flags anytime soon on The Boulevard, but with success comes some expectations. The student body is going to expect wins and better bowl games in the future. The more people become emotionally invested in the team, the more motivation they’ll have to walk (or stumble) into Ford Stadium.

Better recruiting prospects, higher athletic department budgets, and increased national coverage are all great assets for a football team. But the true barometer for success is the pride that is felt for the name on the front of the jerseys. And this September, fans will witness the next step toward the restoration of the tradition of SMU football.

Come watch the dominoes fall.

Opinion Blog: A Less Than Super Show

February 15, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Chase Cusack

We tune in to see the top athletes in the world battle it out on the gridiron. We expect epic commercials with top notch production values to make our abs sore from laughing. And during the Super Bowl halftime show, well, at least we know we have a good time to use the bathroom.

Since the Janet Jackson “Nipplegate” debacle of 2004, halftime has been a showcase for lackluster performances by classic rock bands of the baby boomer generation. The NFL needs to stop playing it safe, and make halftime relevant again.

It wasn’t until the late ‘90s that someone realized how unique an opportunity the Super Bowl presented to bring together music’s biggest stars in front of a captivated world wide audience. In 1998, the game featured a salute to Motown that was both legendary and contemporary with TLC, Aretha Franklin, and The Temptations.

Halftime in the years that followed was as significant a part of water cooler conversation as the game itself. But the infamous FCC fines for Jackson’s exposure left the NFL red in the cheeks.

In the wake of “Nipplegate,” the league must have made an unwritten rule that the halftime performers had to have AARP cards to prevent any future embarrassments. Outside of Prince in 2007, the youngest act since Jackson has been 57-year-old Tom Petty. Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen were all between the ages of 58 and 66 at the time of their performances.

And the act is always the same. They play a few of the most recognizable classics, wear leather, and hope no one notices that their voice isn’t what it used to be. At least this time the producers didn’t force teenagers to rush the field and pretend to know the words to The Who’s “Pinball Wizard.”

Instead of playing the nostalgia card, what if this year we had witnessed a collaboration between Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, and Taylor Swift? There would be undeniable buzz coming from television’s most important demographic. And increased viewership in the 18 to 49 age range means higher advertising revenue for the network that airs the game.

The Grammys have perfected bringing old-school and new-school artists together for unforgettable performances. The Super Bowl would be smart to pay attention. The world’s biggest stage needs to be special again. And unless there’s a Led Zeppelin reunion in the works for 2011, we’re all expecting a little more creativity next time.

Remember, the greater the risk, the greater the reward.

VIDEO: Rise and Shine SMU

May 4, 2009 by · Comments Off