Monday, July 17, 2006

Step Over Cody Banks, Here Comes Alex Rider


Hoping to capitalize on the very successful youth movie market, Samuelson Productions and the Weinstein company are releasing the $40 million teen-spy thriller Stormbreaker in England this Friday. The film is based on the successful Alex Rider novel series by Anthony Horowitz and the production companies hope that the film will be successful enough to start a new teen movie franchise.

When analyzing the financial expectations of the film, the Reuters article linked above makes comparisons to the blockbuster youth fantasy movies that have come out in recent years. Reuters discusses everything from Harry Potter to C.S. Lewis in setting the stage for the production companies' hopes, but I think this is the wrong comparison to use. Though these successful youth oriented, if I even accept that proposition, films are based on successful book franchises (as is Stormbreaker), the comparison really ends there. The Alex Rider novels, and the movie, are spy tales and ought to be compared to previous entries in the "youth spy" genre. In my view a proper comparison would be to the Agent Cody Banks and Spy Kids franchises. While these franchises haven't been as lucrative as Harry Potter, and the others, they match genre type and set a proper stage for audience expectations. This is particularly true with audiences in the United States who will be less familiar than British audiences with the novel series and will merely have genre to fall back on when deciding whether to attend the film or not.

So...in comparison to Agent Cody Banks and Spy Kids how does Stormbreaker look? You can view the preview at the official Stormbreaker website, as I have. From what I have seen, in the preview which isn't really much to base a conclusion on really, Stormbreaker looks both just as silly and yet more serious than the two films I mentioned. The young actor (Alex Pettyfer) selected to play Alex Rider doesn't look as silly as Cody Bank's Frankie Muniz. The special effects look impressive, and at first glance the cast is filled with excellent British actors like Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, and Robbie Coltrane which brings hopeful imaginings of a fairly serious story. But as I watched more of the preview, I saw that the film also includes Mickey Rourke and Alicia Silverstone which makes one imagine a more silly tale.



I am at a loss. I don't know whether the film will be silly or serious, a mixture of the two, engaging or campy. I just don't know. What I do know is that the camera work looks, from the preview, to be very good in comparison to the other teen spy films I mentioned. I also know that the film includes Ewan McGregor and I'll watch him in anything. BTW, if the Stormbreaker preview is any kind of indicator, Ewan would have made a very good Bond (even though I think Daniel Craig will be great).

It should be noted that comparisons to the Spy Kids series, rather than the very successful Harry Potter series, were not meant to be dismissive of the film's potential to be profitable. According to pro.imdb.com, the first Spy Kids film made $190 million in Worldwide boxoffice and only cost $35 million to make, figures that would make the producers of Stormbreaker very happy.

For my final assessment we will all have to wait for August 18th (or October depending on whether IMDB or Fandango are correct), when Stormbreaker hits the American market.

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