The Ghostbusters Episode

ghostbusters review

It’s time for a brand new podcast episode of Now Conspiring, and all sorts of things happened. We reviewed Ghostbusters, obviously, but we also found time to chat about some of the big movie news of the week.

Wondering what the deal is with those new Power Rangers posters? Confounded at the popularity of the gentleman’s smartphone game, Pokémon GO? Well, it’s time to conspire by listening to our conspiring.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK (and you’re required to answer this): If you could choose ONE film franchise to never be rebooted (or rebooted again), which would you choose?

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Popular YouTubers, like PewDiePie, Got Paid for Positive Game Reviews

pewdiepie paid reviews

Rich McCormick, via The Verge:

…Warner Bros. deceived customers by paying thousands of dollars to social media “influencers,” including YouTube megastar PewDiePie, to cover Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor without announcing that money had changed hands.

Warner Bros.’ deal with the influencers involved stated that they had to make at least one tweet or Facebook post about the game, as well as produce videos with a string of caveats to avoid showing it in a negative light. Those videos could not express negative opinions about the game or Warner Bros. itself, could not show any glitches or bugs, and must include “a strong verbal call-to-action to click the link in the description box for the viewer to go to the [game’s] website to learn more about the [game], to learn how they can register, and to learn how to play the game,” according to Ars Technica.

I don’t want to focus on the YouTubers being at fault here, even though they are. Just reread that second paragraph because the key point here is that this is happening all the time, and for the most part, people are getting away with it.

Getting paid for positive/negative reviews is an insult that gets thrown around a lot, especially at critics who disagree with the majority of fans over something. Just take the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice backlash directed at just about anyone who hated the film, like me. But you can’t argue that the practice is some conspiracy. The studios are doing this every day.

Not to be confused with the more common practice of luring influencers to exclusive “events” in order to extract a positive sentiment from the person or persons. It’s hard to criticize a game, TV show, or movie when the makers of said property have put you in an environment where it’s incredibly easy to get swept up in the day. I know this from firsthand experience, and it’s a bitter thing to overcome.

You’ll never read a paid review or “sponsored article” on this website. I get the requests on an almost daily basis, and it’s not happening. Not because I’m above it all or that I’m scared I’ll get caught (even though that’s a fair consideration). But because you’re reading my opinions, presented by me and no one else. That’s what you’re here for, and it would be useless, even moronic, for me to give you anything else.

The Secret Life of Pokémon GO

secret life of pets

Everyone has pets, and now pretty much everyone also has Pokémon. In this week’s episode of Now Conspiring, we review The Secret Life of Pets and have a lengthy discussion about the Nintendo smartphone game that has resulted in some real life Team Rocket incidents.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What (or who) is the coolest Pokémon you’ve captured so far, and how did you catch him/her/it?

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The Big Friendly Conversation

big friendly giant

This week on the podcast, I’m joined by film critic, Will Ashton (who you can follow on Twitter here, and you should because reasons), to talk about The BFGSwiss Army ManThe Purge: Election Year, and tons more topics and distractions worth conspiring.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which Ilvermorny house were you sorted in? (or which do you wish you had been sorted in?)

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Pixar Is Taking a Break from Sequels After ‘Incredibles 2’

pixar sequels incredibles 2

Turns out that tip I reported was correct after all.

Allanah Faherty confirmed the rumor yesterday on Movie Pilot:

Pixar President, Jim Morris has revealed that after the release of the last sequel on the current slate, The Incredibles 2 in June 2019, the studio will release four original films.

“Everything after Toy Story and The Incredibles is an original right now,” he said. At the moment there are two untitled original films scheduled to be released in March and June 2020, and a further two are in early development, and look “highly likely” to join the studio’s schedule soon.

This is interesting news for a few big reasons. The most obvious one is that this addresses the “sequel-fatigue” many of us have been experiencing with the studio since Cars 2, as well as the doubts people have been having about Pixar’s quality in comparison to Walt Disney Animation Studios’ recent wave of huge success.

But the other big reason we should consider is how this will reflect on Pixar’s massive hit, Finding Dory, which is of course a sequel. The film has been a box office juggernaut in the U.S. (it will soon dethrone Captain America: Civil War as the biggest domestic hit of 2016), and the movie has also enjoyed steadily positive praise from critics.

In other words, this news implies what a lot of us have always suspected about Pixar as a business. Their decisions on which movies to release are not solely driven by short-term numbers and cash grabs. It seems they’re more interested in telling the stories they want to tell.

Note: the top image is a reference to Pixar’s next original film, Cocowhich will release next year.

The Pixar Theory Debate, Featuring SuperCarlinBros

pixar theory supercarlinbros

How does Finding Dory fit into the Pixar Theory? This week on the podcast, I’m joined by Jonathan and Ben Carlin (of the YouTube channel, Supercarlinbros) to answer just that question. But we’re not in total agreement, so it’s a battle of the theorists.

To get the most out of this debate, I highly recommend that you first check out Jon and Ben’s video about Finding Dory and the Pixar Theory, as well as my own write up, The Pixar Theory: Part 4, Finding Dory.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: If you could suggest the next Pixar movie, reaching from your own emotional life stories, what would you pitch to them?

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Is ‘Finding Dory’ Part of Hollywood’s Sequel Problem?

finding dory sequel problem

Mark Harris via VultureThe Sequels of 2016 Aren’t About Storytelling; They’re Just Brand Extensions

I don’t consider “sequel” a slur. But it’s notable how much the impetus behind them has changed, and with it, their very nature.

This summer’s sequels are not, for the most part, story continuations but brand extensions. Some are good and some not; some have succeeded and some have flopped, but almost all of them are different beasts than the first generation of blockbuster genre sequels.

To my taste, the best reason to make a sequel is because the story demands it.

Overall, this is a great write-up by Harris that articulates a lot of the frustration I and many critics and fans have been having with sequels this year. He even champions Marvel’s Civil War as a good example of how sequels with grander narrative purpose make better impressions on audiences who’ve grown savvy to Hollywood’s sequel formula.

But I would disagree on one example he brings up briefly.

As for Finding Dory, it’s a solid brand refresher that will make a mint — an effective way for Disney to remonetize a dormant franchise. But nothing will convince me that Pixar’s move from being arguably the finest producer of original content in Hollywood to a sequel manufactory (next up: The Incredibles 2, Cars 3, Toy Story 4) is anything but dispiriting news.

I don’t disagree with Harris on this point at all, but I think Finding Dory is a wildly inappropriate example of his main point. Finding Dory is no Civil War in the sense that it exists in a larger universe of movies with a single narrative (or is it?), but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad sequel off of the definition Harris attributes above to movies like TMNT: Out of the Shadows and The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

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