Saturday, April 30, 2011

KEATON & HANKS: Cinematic Soul Mates

One thing you may not have noticed is the striking resemblance between the careers of Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks, at least up to a certain point. It may not be obvious at first, but by the time you’ve finished reading this article you’ll wonder how you missed it all this time. Right off the bat most people will try to argue that Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are cinematic soul mates, but this isn’t a romantic, Hollywrong fair tale. This is reality, folks.

For starters, they both entered the rat race around the same time, the late 1970s/early 1980s, but it was Keaton, who is Hanks’ five-year senior, that arrived first. Their gateway was television, via the situation comedy (sitcom). Although Keaton had made several guest appearances on television, beginning his career on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968), it was his co-starring role alongside James Belushi in the short-lived series Working Stiffs (1979) that gave him comedic recognition. Meanwhile, Tom Hanks was cutting his teeth in the theater, but like Keaton, he also landed a co-starring role along side Peter Scolari in the more enduring series, Bosom Buddies (1980).

"Love Brokers!"
Michael Keaton & Henry Winkler
Night Shift (1982)
It was no doubt through their connections in television that they both wound up on the radar of TV star veteran turned film director, Ron “Don’t call me Opie or Richie” Howard. Being older, and having more experience and exposure, Keaton landed the co-starring role of Bill “Billy Blaze” Blazejowski in Night Shift (1982). Directed by Ron Howard and starring Henry “The Fonz” Winkler and Shelly Long, the film follows the story of two NYC morgue attendants (Keaton & Winkler) turned pimps. Although there is subtle comedy throughout, it is Keaton’s eccentric antics that make the film truly memorable. After the success of Night Shift Keaton was offered the lead role in Howard’s next picture, Splash (1984), but turned it down. The co-incidental cancellation of Bosom Buddies led Howard to cast his next picture with the then unknown Tom Hanks.

Thanks to their association with Ron Howard both Keaton and Hanks were able to use their roles as a springboard for their respective film careers. They each starred in a slew of comedies through the early to mid 80s. Before Splash had even been released Keaton had followed up his performance in Night Shift with the starring role in Mr. Mom (1983). After that he landed the title role in the slapstick comedy Johnny Dangerously (1984) and then returned to work with Ron Howard again on the more dramatic, yet still comical, Gung Ho (1986). Hanks also wasted no time capitalizing on his newfound success. Not even six months after Splash was released Bachelor Party (1984) premiered. The film has gone on to become a comedic classic inspiring films such as Clerks II (2006) and The Hangover (2009). He followed this with several successful comedies including The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), co-starring Keaton’s old pal – James Belushi, The Money Pit (1986), co-starring Keaton’s other former colleague – Shelly Long, and Dragnet (1987), playing partner to Dan Aykroyd.

"I'm not riding Keaton's coattails!"

1988 proved to be the breakout year for both of them as well. Keaton kicked off the year with a stellar performance as “the ghost with the most” in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988). Hanks had his own success, both critically and financially, with his performance in the film Big (1988), for which he received his first of five Oscar nominations for Best Actor. Keaton followed all of this up with his first truly dramatic role as Daryl Poynter, a real estate agent battling cocaine and alcohol addiction in Clean and Sober (1988). This performance, combined with Beetlejuice, earned Keaton the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor in 1988. Keaton had succeeded in breaking out of the comedy typecast and followed up the year with a dark, dynamic performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the commercial blockbuster, Batman (1989). Hanks on the other hand closed out the 80s with a mix of comedies, such as The ‘Burbs (1989) that attempted to further showcase his dramatic skills.

During the early 1990s Keaton and Hanks both began to professionally transition into dramatic leading men. Building off of his achievements with Clean and Sober and Batman, Keaton continued to develop his skills by tackling an array of roles in films such as Pacific Heights (1990) where he played a sociopath conman and One Good Cop (1991) where he plays a desperate family man. These roles showed sharp contrasts in Keaton’s dramatic range. After reprising his role as the famed Dark Knight in Batman Returns (1992), Keaton again turned to high drama with My Life (1993). Hanks’ transition was a little more gradual, beginning the decade with the modern day fairytale, Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). The film marked not only the first time Hanks would work with Steven Spielberg, who was an executive producer on the film, but also the beginning of his cinematic love affair with Meg Ryan. His first success of the decade came when Penny Marshal, who directed Hanks in Big, cast him as the bitter, drunken, broken down has been coach, Jimmy Dugan, in A League of Their Own (1992). Hanks also added romantic leading man to his repertoire by re-teaming with Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle (1993). That same year Hanks won his first of two back-to-back Oscars for Best Actor in Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia (1993). The following year he earned his second golden statue for his performance in Forrest Gump (1994), which skyrocketed his career and kept him on top of the Hollywrong A-List for the next ten years.

In 1995 Hanks re-teamed with Ron Howard, who had directed Keaton the previous year in The Paper (1994), for Apollo 13 (1995). Among the cast of Apollo 13 was Gary Sinise, who played Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. It is interesting to think about what would have happened if Keaton had been cast in the role of Lt. Dan, a part for which he could have easily made his own, or if Howard had asked him back for Apollo 13, as he did going from Night Shift to Splash a decade earlier. The thing there is Hanks had already won the Oscar for Philadelphia and was working on Forrest Gump by the time Apollo 13 was being put together, so there was no question who would have been asked to star in the film. Ultimately they both returned to their comedic roots, Keaton with Multiplicity (1996) and Hanks with That Thing You Do (1996), which he also wrote and directed.

Hanks as Chuck Nolan
Cast Away (2000)
The success Hanks received in 1993 and 1994 split the parallel track that he and Keaton were sharing and led to a divergence in their professional development. Over the next fifteen years Keaton gravitated more towards independent films with artistic flare such as Jackie Brown (1997), Game 6 (2005), and The Merry Gentleman (2009), which he also directed. Hanks focused primarily on award hungry dramas such as Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Green Mile (1999), Cast Away (2000), and Road to Perdition (2002). Surprisingly it took thirty years for their professional paths to finally cross and even then it was only voice-to-voice.

In 2010 the two comedic geniuses of the 1980s came full circle and met on the big screen as little toys in Toy Story 3 (2010). Hanks, who had been a member of the Pixar camp since the original Toy Story (1995), was joined by Keaton, who made his Pixar debute with Cars (2006), as Ken, the suave, stylish, debonair counterpart to Barbie. Coincidently their characters don’t share much screen time, or even many scenes together. In fact there are even parallels between their two characters with Woody being the leader of his group of toys and Ken taking charge of the toys in daycare. Hmm, maybe those guys at Pixar are even smarter than originally anticipated.

Hanks & Keaton - Together at last.

Keaton is currently lined up to re-team with Tim Burton for his stop motion feature adaptation of his short film, Frankenweenie (2012). After a fifteen-year hiatus Hanks returns as a writer and director with his new film, Larry Crowne (2011), due out this summer. It seems that despite all the Hollywrong clout things have a way of evening out. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PROFILE: Roger Rabbit

CG Rendition of Roger
for the new millennium.
Quite possibly the last great cartoon character before traditional 2D animation went flaming straight to hell, Roger Rabbit stands as a benchmark in animation history. Comprised of the top three animation studio styles (Disney, Warner Brothers, and Tex Avery) he draws inspiration from several characters across the board. Roger is the ultimate Toon, creatively engineered to be funny. Even his color scheme (Red, White, and Blue) was a conscious choice to make him subliminally likable to audiences. The dash of yellow also keeps him tide to the primary colors, of which all other colors are based. Despite his corporate marketability, Roger’s character embodies a genuine stance in regard to humor and its power over adversity.

Beginning as a literary character in the novel, Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981) by Gary K. Wolf, Roger evolved into a mainstream icon when the book was adapted into the feature film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). The premise established in the film is that “toons” are real living entities that work in the film business as contract players. They co-exist with humans, but derive from a place known as “Toon Town,” where toons from every era and studio denomination exist in unscripted anarchy. The film is significant in displaying all of these characters together, such as Disney stars Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck along side their Looney Tune contemporaries, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, legally. However, in spite of being surrounded by fan favorites, Roger manages to hold his own and carry the show. The film established him as an up and coming star popular among both children and adults, although his wife, Jessica Rabbit, was decidedly more popular with adult males.

Nevertheless, Roger had a promising career before him. The film was a great gateway into the hearts of audiences, but it left a void within them; a longing to see Roger in action. The film begins with an original cartoon that is being filmed like a movie on a soundstage. It is ultimately cut short when Roger fumbles one of his directions. After seeing the potential and marketable interest generated by the film a series of animated shorts were produced and released theatrically, preceding studio features. This gave the public what they wanted, while continuing to build the credibility of a new character. Unfortunately 2D animation was already a dying marketplace. Roger, being a symbol of the golden age of animation couldn’t rightfully make the jump into 3D CGI animation. An attempt was made to bring Roger into syndication with the Disney cartoon, Bonkers (1993), but legal issues prevented that move, calling for original characters to be created instead.

The theatrical shorts are the only testament to the entertainment value of the character outside of the film. They are also the only way to see the character function in his own, natural habitat, sans humans. Below you will find all three shorts, in their entirety, in the order in which they were released. The quality is top notch, just escaping the steep decline brought on by the lack of skilled artists who either switched over to computer animation, or found new careers. To watch these shorts and know that they were produced in your lifetime and then look at the choppy, un-“tweened,” heavily eastern influenced crap that passes for animation today makes you wish “the dip” really did exist.

Tummy Trouble (1989) Originally released with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (1989)

Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990) Originally released with Dick Tracy (1990)

Trail Mix-Up (1993) Originally released with A Far Off Place (1993)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

REVIEW: The Fighter (2010)

Art imitating life, imitating art, imitating life. The Fighter (2010) is the most recent film in a long line of “Cinderella” stories to captivate audiences.  It is based on the true rags to riches story, highlighting the career of former welterweight world champion, “Irish” Micky Ward. The film’s success is not only attributed to the competent results of the production, including the performances by the cast, technical achievements by the crew, or creative decisions by the writers and director, but also the realistic and relatable subject matter. The story appeals to a broad demographic of blue-collar urban and suburban lifestyles. The film is also littered with brutality that allows the audience to relieve its uncheck aggression from their daily lives vicariously through the characters on the screen. All of these elements have been packaged together on the screen before in films such as Rocky (1976), Raging Bull (1980), and Cinderella Man (2005), proving that this is a well-established sub-genre.

The film begins and ends with a mock documentary setting where Dick Eklund (Christian Bale) is praising both himself and his brother, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) for their respective accomplishments in the field of boxing. Aside from that narrative detour the film follows a straight third person insight with no further breaking of the fourth wall. The film compiles events in Ward’s life to make a turbulent, engaging, and more linear dramatic narrative. His losing streak, broken hand, and comeback are key points that coincide with his brother’s appearance on the HBO documentary High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell (1995) and incarceration.

Bale in Jail
Although the film is about Micky Ward and his boxing career that aspect actually takes a back seat to the story about his relationship with his half-brother, Dicky. Actually the film shows how Ward’s entire family affected his career for good and bad. His relationships with his mother, who was his manager, his brother, who was his trainer, and his sisters, who act as sort of a familial jury are all completely toxic. It was his father who took Micky’s best interests to heart and helped him get his career back on track. But the heart of the picture is the relationship, love and respect for this pair of brothers. It is established very quickly that Dicky’s career, short lived as it was, had a tremendous impact on Micky growing up and led him down his life path. When things start to go south for Dicky it is hard for Micky to walk away and even once he does he can’t ignore his brother’s advice. There are strong themes about family, loyalty, and love throughout the film and the struggles and sacrifices that people make for each.

Knowing that the film is based on real people and events is what gives The Fighter its strength. When compared to other recent films with similar themes, such as The Wrestler (2008), even though it’s a different sport there are similar themes, The Fighter knocks it out. For starters, The Wrestler is a little too melodramatic and comes off like a forced tragedy. It simply tries to hard to showcase the hardships endured by the professionals of that field and while it is realistically portrayed, turning the title character into a blind martyr weakens the entire film. It is an overrated, fictional downer when compared to the realistic triumphs over adversity present in The Fighter. The practical approach to the dramatic elements in the story makes it a more uplifting and inspiring tale on many different levels.

Christian Bale
Honorary Congeroid
However, in many ways the story, when stripped down to its essence, has been done a million times before and is quite mediocre. It’s the characters and performances that really set The Fighter apart from the pack. From the very first shot Christian Bale steals the show. His accomplishments and acclaim as an actor are widely known, but his performance as Dick Eklund really does stand out as one of his best. His total immersion into the character is remarkable to witness and is on par with his role in The Machinist (2004), just in terms of physical transformation. Add into it his motor mouth juvenile personality and you’d swear he was the local lowlife stalking your neighborhood. Melissa Leo definitely holds her own as Ward’s mother, Alice. Just as Bale, she does a magnificent job of shedding her personal persona and embodying her character to the point of sympathetic revulsion. To see the two of them in a scene together begs the question, “Why are they making a film about these people?” because their performances are so genuine that its like watching people you know, but wish you didn’t, on the screen. Both Bale and Leo wound up winning Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards at the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes and Oscars for their portrayals. That’s not to say the rest of the cast didn’t deliver, but their extreme personalities both elevate the tension and attract the viewer’s attention. Mark Wahlberg plays the most naturally suited role of his career next to the na├»ve Eddie Adams, aka Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights (1997) and Amy Adams takes her first step towards a larger acting world. Other performances of note include Jack McGee as Ward’s father and Mickey O’Keefe, who played himself, as Ward’s mentor and trainer.

This production marks the third time that Wahlberg has worked with director David O. Russell, the first being Three Kings (1999) and the second being I Heart Huckabees (2004). The Fighter marks the first that Russell hadn’t generated the source material for their collaboration and instead was chosen by Wahlberg, who is also a producer of the film. Having no personal investment in the story allowed Russell to focus solely on the technical set ups for capturing the action of the story. The result is a well made film of an average story with amazing performances. The Fighter was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 15, 2011.

******* 7/10

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
It was announced yesterday (Tuesday, April 5th, 2011) that Christopher Nolan would be filming the next, and final, installment in his Batman trilogy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To many people this came as a bit of a surprise considering the previous film, The Dark Knight (2008), was primarily filmed in Chicago, Illinois. After the prominent and publicized featuring of the windy city in The Dark Knight, people just assumed that was going to continue doubling for the famed and fictional Gotham City. What people fail to understand is that location filming means your sets can’t be changed. There is an element of control that is taken away from the filmmakers in terms of visual challenges and keeping it fresh for the audience. To stay in Chicago would be like filming Pirates of the Caribbean series on one island. There are only so many locations, angles and lighting tricks you can do before the setting begins to overshadow the story and characters.

Wayne Enterprises?
Photo by L. Lynch
In the fall of 2009 I was staying with a relative while working on a novel. He lived just outside of Pittsburgh, on the cusp of George A. Romero’s original Zombieland. Although most of my time was spent working on my project I did manage to visit Pittsburgh during my stay. In passing it appears to be just another city with bridges, waterways, stadiums and skyscrapers. Just like any other city, you have to go into it to discover its true character. The first thing that stood out to me upon arriving in the city was a tall, black, glass building, which I later discovered was the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) Complex. To me it looked like the real headquarters for Wayne Enterprises. The buildings sleek, dark, modern design screamed BATMAN to me. I remember thinking, “This is where they should have filmed the new Batman movies. At least some of the scenes anyway.”

Photo(s) by L. Lynch

Photo by L. Lynch
As I continued exploring the city I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of bridges in close proximity to one another. In the main downtown district there are ten major bridges, but throughout the city of Pittsburgh there are approximately 446 – earning it the nickname “The City of Bridges.” This accounts for many new options open to the filmmakers in terms of accessibility and capturing the story visually. Even the elements of their design and construction add a dynamic element to the urban landscape, creating many dark and shady corners for menacing action, or invigorating chase sequences to occur. It would exceptionally challenging, and quite lame to try and recreate new sequences on the streets of Chicago, especially after the armored car sequence from The Dark Knight.

Another thing in Pittsburgh’s favor is that the city is on a peninsula, surround by two rivers (the Monongahela & the Allegheny), which combine to make the Ohio River. This continues with the continuity established in the first two films of the series while broadening the scope of the scenery and potential for new action sequences. Across the river, to the south of the city, is Mt. Washington, which overlooks the city. All of these factors make Pittsburgh a very cinematic city and that isn’t even considering what’s happening in the city.

In many ways Pittsburgh is very similar to Chicago. They are both what I consider “weekday” cities. That means, unlike Boston or Manhattan, a majority of the people working in the city live in the surrounding suburbs, making it less crowded in the evenings and on weekends. That kind of luxury could never be afforded in NYC even on a short-term basis. With the city streets clear after 5PM, that’s twelve hours every night to film in a unique, tangible location, and double on weekends. Because of the lack of humanity on the streets after dark both cities are fairly clean as well. This allows for a more controlled filming environment. More attention can put into setting up the shots and action sequences instead of helping out with the cities sanitation efforts. The dark desolation on the city streets is also used to enhance the atmosphere of the picture, adding to the foreboding sense of crime and danger.

The accessibility afforded to filmmakers in smaller Mid-western cities over coastal ones such as New York is practically priceless in terms of its benefits. When you compare films like The Dark Knight to other superhero films like Superman (1978) or Spider-Man (2002) there’s no comparison in terms of production quality. Both Superman and Spider-Man used NYC as a backdrop for their storylines and action, but most of that is fabricated on sets and soundstages. They used a few shots of landmarks to establish the setting and then edit with interiors or SFX recreations. Of course featuring New York adds clout to the picture, but its not lasting and in the end less significant. Utilizing actual cities gives a whole new dimension to the film and allows the audience to get absorbed more easily because there is a sense of familiarity blends with their mind. This actually heightens the tension and excitement because not only are they relating to the characters, but they are also relating to the environment. 

Opting to film in an actual city of a smaller scale than New York is one of the best decisions Christopher Nolan made for this film series. Deciding to film in multiple cities under the banner of Gotham was brilliant. This allows him to broaden the cities fictional landscape with each film, presenting it as the expansive city it’s made out to be in the comics. There are reports that some filming will take place in Chicago, as with the first film, as well as in the UK. Just as The Dark Knight did with Chicago, The Dark Knight Rises (2012) will shine a spotlight on the overlooked gem that is Pittsburgh and capture it in a way that other films only could superficially. Because of this TDKR will become synonymous with the city and lead the legacy of other films from the area, including: Sudden Death (1995), Groundhog Day (1993), Striking Distance (1993), Silence of the Lambs (1991), Robocop (1987), Gung Ho (1986), The Deer Hunter (1978), and of course the Living Dead series to name a few. 

Gotham, err... Pittsburgh Skyline
Photo by L. Lynch

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

GENRE: Western

Watch the video below
or he'll shoot!
The western is the only genre that is 100% indigenous to the United States because it is spawned from our own history. For over a century tales of the American west, “the old west,” have been entertaining audiences around the globe. They have been romanticized into our popular culture through magazines, books, radio, television and films, the latter being the most fallible and enduring.

As of the twentieth century the old west is the last source for American mythology. Stories of outlaws and lawmen based on the legendary figures of that time have created characters with conflicting historical identities. These are based in part on the interpretations of morally confusing times, which are reflective of the reporting and documenting methods of the time. Before the Internet, and motion pictures, and photographs the only way to know the details of an event was to personally witness it. Reliable historians would do their best to document the events, but typically anything after that was personalized, speculative, and subjective hearsay. The invention of Edison's motion picture camera and the production of The Great Train Robbery (1903), led to an increased interest, and marketability, of tales from the old west. Considered to be the first narrative film, it marks the birth of the western genre. Of course public enchantment allowed everyone to overlook the fact that it wasn’t even filmed in the west. It was produced and filmed by Edison’s company in Essex County, N.J. How the hell filmmakers settled in Hollywrong is another story entirely.

The age-old tropes of good vs. evil now had a contemporary setting to play out. As the country continued to grow and develop, this setting took on a more classical presentation. The west came to symbolize a foundation of moral justice in America. This idealism became a defining characteristic of the genre, which peaked during the 1920s, up through the 1950s. Many interpretations of western legends, such as Billy The Kid and Wyatt Earp made it onto the big screen, as well as radio, comics, literature, and television. Widespread appeal to both children and adults led to the romanticizing of some truthfully villainous characters for marketing purposes. It was television that gave new rise to this failing idealism in a post world war society. Shows like Have Gun – Will Travel (1957), Wanted: Dead or Alive (1958) and Rawhide (1959) continued to instill moral idealism and provide entertainment in an ever growing time gap.

During the 1960s, through the 1970s, the western genre experienced its first major revival. To coincide with the changing political atmosphere, heroes of these tales took on a more practical approach to human nature. In many cases they were perceived as men of self-interest, who through their environment took on a more destructive adversary. They were essentially anti-heroes. This revival was partly influenced by international adaptations and original efforts. Kicking off the decade was The Magnificent Seven (1960). Directed by John Sturges, the film was an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s epic classic, The Seven Samurai (1954). Ironically the most successful westerns of this time weren’t even produced, written, or filmed in America – they were financed by Italians and filmed in the deserts of Spain.

Sergio Leone brought the term “Spaghetti Western” to the forefront of the American filmmaking lexicon. His first foray into the genre with Per Un Pugno Di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) (1964), which coincidently was another Kurosawa remake (Yojimbo (1961)), revolutionized the one time clean cut genre for a whole new generation of filmmakers. His gritty, realistic approach to the idealism and themes of the old west, coupled with his highly stylized filmmaking technique present in the Dollars Trilogy (aka The Man With No Name Trilogy – named so after the lead character, played by Clint Eastwood) catapulted Leone to international fame and led to his becoming one of the most respected and imitated filmmakers in history.

Once again the genre took another dip in popularity as appeal dwindled in the 1980s. It wasn’t until the 1990s that a second revival picked the genre up and dusted it off. This time it had award-winning credibility to support it. Dances with Wolves (1990) not only swept the Oscars the year it was released, but showcased a different kind of western, one void of bandits and banditos. The film told a dramatic tale about the disappearance of the American frontier. Its unconventional approach to the genre helped it pass as a historical drama and avoid much of the campy stigma that had attached itself to the genre over the years.

Following the success of Dances with Wolves, Clint Eastwood returned to the genre with equal success, winning multiple Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director) for Unforgiven (1992). Although he continued to appear in American westerns throughout the 1970s, he was often playing an exaggerated version of his character from Leone’s films. By the early 1990s he was able to add a hard dramatic edge to his rugged persona, portraying wisdom and remorse. His maturity and experience spoke for itself and the film stands as a contemporary pinnacle in the genre, which has yet to be surpassed or even equaled. 

The 90s revival also saw a return to the historical romanticism with rival films such as Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994), as well as original, albeit less entertaining, films like The Quick and the Dead (1995), and the unholy abomination Wild Wild West (1999). Despite the latter’s attempts to bring a quick death back to the genre it survived and prospered in the new millennium.

Today the fictional landscape of the American west continues to develop with both original films and remakes of classics. Almost ten years after he played Wyatt Earp, Kevin Costner returned to his saddle as director/actor in Open Range (2003), along side Robert Duvall. Ed Harris followed suit and directed himself and Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008). As time continues to grow so does the generation gap between audiences. The evolution of filmmaking compensates for this by re-writing, re-casting, and remaking stories that may appeal in essence, but not presentation. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) is a remake of a film from 1957 of the same name. Last year’s rendition of True Grit (2010) by the Coen brothers was a remake of a 1969 film of the same name. The only thing that changes, aside from technical execution and presentation, is the interpretation of the source material.

As westerns move into the future they will surely expand in new directions, while continuing to revisit old ones. Crossing genres is one way to keep things fresh and engaging for audiences and has been a popular deterrent for decades. Both comedy and science fiction have loaned themselves to the genre in the past with films like Blazing Saddles (1974), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Rango (2011), Westworld (1973), Firefly (2002) and the forthcoming Cowboys and Aliens (2011). No matter what the catch is the essence of any western will always come back to tradition, based on legend, resulting in mythology.