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How to Make a Hollywood Action Movie

I have money (sometimes). I like to spend that money on tickets to action movies. GOOD action movies. Action movies that make me go “Yessss! That is so AWESOME!” not “Guuuugh, that is sooo LAME!” I have seen a disturbing number of the latter type films in theaters lately so I thought current and future Hollywood producer types might appreciate (okay, more NEED than appreciate) this guide on how to get my money from me.

You could be forgiven for looking at the less-than-stellar repertoire of action stars like Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Damme and extrapolating the formula for making a successful Hollywood action film as follows:

The Hollywood Action Equation: Boobs + Bombs = Money

Roughly translated as: boobs plus bombs equals massive pile of money

But if all you want is successful, go back to Underachievers Anonymous, because you’re obviously not getting the message. Film is an art form as well as an entertainment medium. Contribute, dammit! You should be aiming for maximum entertainment value: and that means making a GOOD action movie.
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Human Target Review

Fox has been advertising Human Target since at least September. I came across promos for it while I was compiling my list of new 2009/2010 shows to watch. I thought “meh, looks a bit campy, but maybe I’ll give it a try,” and then mentally filed it away because it didn’t start for like six more months.

By January I’d totally forgotten about it. Then I saw the name of the show listed in the CTV online video library. I had an hour to kill, so I clicked. And it was AWESOME!

You can get the gist of the show by reading the following sentence:

Human Target is a series of weekly hour-long action movies based on the DC comic book of the same name. It follows a former hitman turned undercover bodyguard who infiltrates the lives of clients to draw out and eliminate threats.

Or by watching the trailer. But if you want to know why it’s awesome, you’ll have to watch the show.

…. or you can click below and I’ll tell you.

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How to: Make Sequels to Snakes on a Plane

If his filmography is anything to go by, Samuel L. Jackson will act in anything. He’s appeared in no fewer than 127 productions in 37 years, which is an average of 3.5 jobs per year. The only explanation I can think of for his being so absurdly busy is that he made himself a promise that he would accept any role that came to him regardless of size, moneymaking potential, or quality. That’s how we ended up with this underrated gem of a film:


a film so simple the title doubles as the synopsis

Amazingly, the simple formula Snakes on a Plane follows turned out to be a winner. This is its mathematical expression, no doubt used in the pitch meeting for the film to tone down the immense complexity of the idea into something studio executives could understand:


snake + plane = money

In fact, this model was so successful that they’re already working on a sequel, Snakes on a Plane 2: Snakes on a Train (I kid you not, that is the real title). While the odds of you making any money off the original franchise are only slightly higher than the possibility of your winning the European lottery, Samuel L. Jackson’s willingness to work on everything his schedule will allow does give you the potential to cash in.

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Ten Plane Movies That May Have Flown Under Your Radar

I recently read an article on Film.com about their favorite airplane movies. Their list contains eleven entries, some of which are undoubtedly shining examples of the genre:


Top Gun: arguably the greatest
airplane movie ever

Airplane! Arguably the funniest
airplane movie ever

However, some of the others were (at best) only tangentially related to airplanes, perhaps because they hadn’t seen enough movies that were actually about airplanes to fill up a list. In my book, a two minute crash sequence at the beginning does not an airplane movie make. Two of the most glaring examples were:


Alive, which is actually about survival and…

Fearless, which is about PTSD.

If you live by their lists, you’re missing out on some paragons of the aviation film genre, so I present to you these ten plane movies that have flown under the Film.com radar, and perhaps yours as well.

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