‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ casting; plus thoughts on ‘Pacific Rim’

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September 3, 2013 by Hope W.

Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam

Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ casts Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam

Wow. Casting two relative unknowns in the most speculated erotic roles in recent history? That’s daring. I have never heard of Dakota Johnson, and while Charlie Hunnam was decent in Pacific Rim, and is familiar to those who watch “Sons of Anarchy”, I don’t imagine him as Christian Grey. Not that I’ve read the book, so I am not entirely sure of his characterisation; but from what I’ve heard, he’s supposed to be young, hot and smouldering, and based off Edward Cullen, since the books originated as a Twilight AU fanfic. And Charlie Hunnam does not fit that description. (Neither does Robert Pattinson actually, who was E. L. James’ first choice.) If I had to pick an actor, I would probably choose Ian Somerhalder; though I am not sure what starring in a reviled-and-mocked-though-popular erotic thriller would do for their career prospects, so it may not be a good thing for an actor that I like to be in it either.

Then again, it could be a good movie. The director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, did Nowhere Boy, which critics liked when it came out. (She went on to have a May-December romance with her lead actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson.) If they can get away from the bad writing of the book, the skeeviness of the premise, and if Dakota Johnson is a better actress than Kristen Stewart in the Twilight series (though that did not stop it from earning ridiculous amounts at the box office — ridiculous because I don’t think they deserve it, but anyway); why, it could actually work.

Speaking of Charlie Hunnam in Pacific Rim: the movie was fairly good, but too “monstrous” (i.e. filled with scary monsters) and apocalyptic for my liking. It was also rather confusing, even though I got the general gist, because there were lots of technical terms about Kaijus and Jaegers and entering the Drift; and as mentioned in my previous post, the actors speak too fast sometimes. And they spoke too fast many times in this movie, because everyone was in such a hurry to save the world to bother to make themselves clear.

It works better as a standalone movie though, so I hope to goodness’ sake that they do NOT make a sequel. I didn’t like Rinko Kikuchi’s character very much, because it seemed that she couldn’t make up her mind as to whether she was sure or unsure of herself; and they killed off Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba’s character), who is like the Nick Fury of that universe. You can’t kill off your badass team commanders and have the sequel not suffer for it. (Can I say though, Herc Hansen — the dad in the Australian Jaeger team — is HOT.)

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Beckett and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in Pacific Rim

Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh Beckett and Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori in Pacific Rim

Max Martini as Herc Hansen

Max Martini as Herc Hansen

Still, it’s a pity it underperformed in the US; but it did well overseas, so it’s able to make a profit at least. And I’m glad. Guillermo del Toro is a director with a huge fan following, but that does not necessarily translate to the box office, as none of his films except Pacific Rim made it over the $100 million mark in the US, and Pacific Rim just scraped past it — a far cry from the $190 million budget. (I attended a class once where the lecturer said that studios always inflate the numbers of the budget for… bragging rights? unknown reasons?… so the movie probably cost less than that. But the disparity is still too large.) Even Pan’s Labyrinth, arguably his most acclaimed film, made just $37 million in the US (though its status as a foreign movie and an R-rating contributed to that. And it was made for only $19 million, so it’s considered a success). And I read somewhere that movie studios only get 40 per cent of the earnings from foreign box offices, so I’m not sure if movies that under-perform in the US break even then. Not to mention advertising and publicity costs, which come from outside the budget. And if original movies from acclaimed directors with huge fan followings don’t do well, it means studios will be more reluctant to back such movies. Which sucks all around for people who don’t just want to watch sequels and trite blockbusters.


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