Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interesting Directors Should Stay Away from Stephenie Meyer

The Host...a Stephenie Mey-- I mean, Andrew Niccol film.
The Host comes out on Friday, and I'm sure the readers of the young adult (YA) novel it is based on would watch it if it was directed by anybody.  Why, then, is it directed by Andrew Niccol, the man behind Gattaca, Lord of War, and The Truman Show (he wrote the screenplay)?  Niccol is an interesting director; a filmmaker who is capable of creating worlds and compelling stories.  Wouldn't it be better if he devoted his time to a more serious film and left this YA stuff to a journeyman director?

Sure, The Host might not be terrible.  Honestly, based on the trailer, I think it looks like a step up from the Twilight series.  But both properties are based on books by Stephenie Meyer.  This means that it is probably intended for screaming tween girls, and it will be watched by those girls no matter what (although I'm not picking up any Twilight-like buzz about this one).  The premise of the story, humans taken over by aliens, seems par for the course for Niccol, so maybe his decision to direct isn't too nefarious.  But still, there's bound to be some other, better property out there that he could have attached himself to.  This isn't a one time problem, either.  This has been going on for a while.

It all started with Twilight (or T1, as I'll call it).  Catherine Hardwicke dropped all of her indie cred to make that (shudder) hugely popular film.  She had been making movies like 13 and Lords of Dogtown.  Those movies are for and about younger people, too, but they are infinitely more interesting than Twilight, which was a series mainly devoted to the question of which boy the main character would choose.  Hardwicke would've been a fine choice if she had decided to put her stamp on the series and stay with it for the long haul.  But she stopped after one film and her career looks less and less interesting each day.  Plus, the film she made looked like it was made by a directing program rather than a human. 

T2 took away director Chris Weitz.  I found his installment to be the best of the series, but only because I liked a montage featuring a Thom Yorke song (and who knows how much he had to do with that, anyway).  There was nothing that different between that film and the first, though.  Weitz had made American Pie and About a Boy before this.  He is capable of better things, evidenced by his latest film, A Better Life.  He rebounded nicely, but he never should have jumped on the Twilight train.

T3 stole David Slade from us.  He had directed Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night.  Oh, and he also claimed to hate the series and wouldn't even watch it at "gun point."  This is the perfect example of how directors will sometimes take a money job instead of attempting to produce original work.  Slade, of course, issued a statement claiming it was just a joke and he eventually came to love the series, but that was just damage control.  He wanted money for a high profile job.  And what did he do?  He churned out another film in the series that is utterly indistinguishable from the rest.  Most infuriating of all?  He had made a hard-R vampire film before in which the vampires were vicious monsters.  He goes from predatory beasts to shiny, porcelain-skinned wimps? 

Give me...$2 million.
Make that...$4 million.

The fourth installment of the film was actually divided into two for the now obligatory cash grab established by the Harry Potter series.  Bill Condon inexplicably directed the last "two" films.  Condon had previously directed Gods & Monsters and Kinsey.  Not exactly the background one would expect for a director meant to tackle the most action-heavy installment of the series.  To his credit, the action isn't terrible, and the films are sort of coherent.  But, once again, there is nothing about these films that set them apart from the rest. 

That is my biggest complaint about all of this.  These directors have all made films that show a bit of style on their part.  Why, then, would they latch on to this banal series that was only meant to please the already-crazed fans?  I know that the simple answer is money, and that it most likely the correct answer.  But why didn't they attempt to make these films their own?  There are many ways to tell a story visually, but they all just went the same plain route.  Were their hands that tied?  Or are these directors so artistically dead inside that they would take a job for a paycheck and make no attempt to attach their signature to the film?  How do you make some artistically valuable work, then turn around and jump for the money? 

This sorry trend continues with The Host, but hopefully that film turns out to be more like an Andrew Niccol film and less like a Stephenie Meyer adaptation.  It is possible for this to happen.  Just look at the Harry Potter series.  The first films were directed by the boring Chris Columbus.  There was a built in audience, and the producers just wanted a cookie-cutter adaptation to bring in the kids.  Then, as the series and audience grew older, they brought in some actual talent with Alfonso Cuaron, which set the darker and more entertaining tone for the rest of the series.  Twilight never had its Cuaron moment.  This is why the Potter films will be fondly remembered for years to come, and the Twilight films will probably be remade in five years. 
I don't care that the Twilight films are plain.  They're not intended for me, anyway.  I just wish the producers would stop hiring interesting directors and that the interesting directors who do get asked would start turning them down.  It is possible for a crappy YA series to hire the boring directors that the source material deserves.  D. J. Caruso directed I Am Number Four, Daniel Barnz directed Beastly, Stefan Fangmeier directed Eragon, and Richard LaGravenese directed Beautiful Creatures.  Sure, none of those films reached the popularity of Twilight, but the directors played no role in their demise because they were all just journeymen directors there to do a job and move on.  At least those series had the decency to stay away from the talented directors.

It looks like that other giant franchise, The Hunger Games, has taken notes.  Plain director Gary Ross isn't returning for the next installment.  But they didn't go fishing for an over-qualified director.  Instead, they've hired Francis Lawrence to direct the rest of the series.  Is Lawrence a bit of a name?  I guess.  But he isn't interesting enough to get upset about.  I'm sure he'll do an adequate job, the kids will be happy, and then everyone can move on.  Hopefully the producers of the next Stephenie Meyer adaptation are taking notes... 

Hey guys, mind if I just kind of hang out for three movies while you play your Hunger Games?


Thursday, March 14, 2013

We Should Stop Reviewing Comedies

Does this look funny to you?  No?  Great!  Yes?  Great!
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone comes out this Friday, and I doubt that I make it out to see it.  As a regular dude looking for a funny movie, I'll probably watch it eventually because of the talent involved.  I'll wait for the video release, however, because nothing in the previews looks funny to me.  Which brings me to why I won't be watching it as a psuedo-critic, either.  It's a comedy, and it doesn't look funny "to me."  Will others like it?  Definitely.  Will most critics hate it?  Probably.  (It's at 40% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.)  I've accepted my own uselessness as a "critic" lately due to my lack of readers, but even if I was read by thousands of people a day, I still wouldn't review Burt Wonderstone.  (Hell, I didn't even review my favorite comedy, Wanderlust, from last year.) 

I can see the argument against film criticism in general these days because the box office and the critical response are rarely equal.  I'm not going to throw my hat in that ring (just check around the movie sites for the debate on the point of movie reviews).  I just want to posit that when it comes to comedy, criticism is essentially worthless.  The genre is far too subjective to be judged.  Sure, you can critique performance and the elements of filmmaking, but you can't truly critique what is funny. 

Taste in film in general varies from person to person, but it is possible to separate a prestige, high quality drama from a loud, cash grab action sequel through criticism.  It's even possible to judge these films objectively based on what they attempt to achieve.  Did the drama make you care about the characters?  Were the action sequences a jumbled, over-edited mess in the other film?  But if the goal of the film is to make you laugh, how can you truly praise or condemn it when senses of humor are so different?  I'll look at what a critic has to say about the action in, say, a Transformers movie, and how hard it is to decipher which robot is winning a fight.  Or if Haneke captures the essence of a lifelong relationship in Amour effectively.  Should I return to the same critics to find out if fart jokes and funnier than political humor?  And yes, the Transformers series is a fart joke in that analogy.  
I don't want to read anything by someone telling me my sense of humor is juvenile...or sophisticated, for that matter.  Comedies reside, or should reside, in a review-free zone.  That's not to say that people shouldn't recommend comedies; it's just that it should be done on a small scale.  I don't think I need to tell anyone to actually do this, but people should just listen to their friends when it comes to comedy.  To be fair, people are always more swayed by the opinions of those in their immediate lives than they are by critics, but while critics know movies, your friends know your sense of humor.  For instance, I know which of my friends I would suggest In Bruges to and which ones I would suggest 21 Jump Street.  
Comedies are naturally better as group movies.  I wouldn't try to get some pals together to watch The Master, but a few of us watching Ted together?  Absolutely.  Because of this group mentality, it becomes necessary to watch certain movies.  When critics universally praise a prestigious film like The Artist, most casual movie fans will tell themselves that they should watch it because it's supposed to be so good, but they probably don't have any friends commanding them to see it.  Think about it; what's more likely?  Someone saying, "Dude, you haven't seen Knocked Up?  You have to watch"  Or, "Oh my God, have you seen Amour yet?  No?  Come with me right now; I have the blu ray at home."  

People feel the need to watch the comedies that their friends have seen for multiple reasons.  First, you want to get all the references they are making so you don't feel left out.  Second, maybe you're skeptical of just how funny this movie is so you want to see what all the fuss is about.  Third, this might be that rare movie that defines your friendship for the next few weeks, or years, even.  I'll elaborate on that last part.

I started watching Joe Dirt last night for probably the hundredth time.  I'm not obsessed with it or anything, and it's actually been a few years since I've seen it.  But as I watched it, I realized I still remembered every single second of the film...and I still found it funny.  Is Joe Dirt considered a universal comedy classic?  Of course not.  But that movie came out while I was in high school, and my group of friends loved it.  Once a member of the group bought the DVD, we slowly integrated everyone into the Joe Dirt cult.  It got so bad that our official class motto was, "Life's a garden. Dig it."  (This was also the motto of a neighboring school's senior class as well, so this may have been a regional phenomenon.)  Every group of friends has a movie or show that they latch onto for a week or two, but this movie is still quoted by my friends to this day.  It has become part of our daily language.  No critic could have told me that.  In fact, if I listen to the critics of this film, I'm supposed to hate it.  A movie that has bound my group of friends together, probably to our dying days, is at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics claiming that it contains no humor at all.  You could've fooled my group of friends.  
"How much is in there?!?" is still a quote among my friends.  Don't judge us...

This made me wonder how other "classic" comedies from my youth fared on RT.
  • Billy Madison - 11%
  • Happy Gilmore - 45%
  • Freddy Got Fingered - 11%
  • A Night at the Roxbury - 11%
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - 45%
  • Tommy Boy - 45%
  • Dracula: Dead and Loving It - 9%
  • The Jerky Boys - 9%
  • Kingpin - 50%
  • Dumb and Dumber - 63% (Fresh!)
  • Orgazmo - 47 %
  • Dirty Work - 17%
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember - 54%

I love each of the above comedies, some more than others, but the critics consistently hated almost all of them.  How can you reconcile something like that?  A critic says that a beloved comedy is simply not funny.  But you laughed, consistently.  Does that mean you are wrong?  Is your sense of humor worse than theirs?  Or better?  It's different, that's all.  And it can't be judged.  You simply cannot judge a comedy by the amount of laughs it provides.  All you can say is, "I thought it was funny."  I slip up now and then and simply tell people a movie is funny, but what I always mean is that I personally found it funny.  You might not, but I did.  Watch at your own risk.  This is why reviewing comedies is so hard, and pointless, for me.  I don't know what any of my random readers find to be funny, and it hurts my brain to try and imagine all of these hypothetical senses of humor.  I'm reduced to lame comparisons, like "Did you like Blazing Saddles?  Then you'll love Spaceballs!"  It's this weak attempt at criticism that leads to idiotic labelling like calling Bridesmaids the "female Hangover."   

Listen, jerky, I don't need you to approve of my taste in comedy.

Back to that list above.  At this point, you may have decided that I simply have a crappy sense of humor.  Possibly, but those are the films of my youth and they still hold a place in my heart.  I am not embarrassed about liking any of those films.  But is this just a time difference thing?  As I considered the older comedies, I also had to consider some recent movies that I found funny.  (I don't consider these all-time favorites or anything just yet, just a few recent movies I enjoyed.)
  • 21 Jump Street - 85%
  • Bridesmaids - 90%
  • Wanderlust - 59 % (Rotten!)
  • Ted - 69%
  • In Bruges - 82%
  • The Five-Year Engagement - 64%
  • Paul - 72%
  • Horrible Bosses - 70%
  • The Green Hornet - 44% (Rotten!)
  • Cedar Rapids - 85%
  • The Other Guys - 78%
  • Piranha 3-D - 73%
  • MacGruber - 47 % (Rotten!)
  • Get Him to the Greek - 72%
  • Hot Tub Time Machine - 63%
Okay, this isn't exactly a scientific survey, but still, what does this mean?  Has my sense of humor become more sophisticated?  If so, then why do I still laugh at Joe Dirt?  Do I hate comedies like Vampires Suck and Epic Movie because I'm just too old?  Is it all just based on what age you were when you first saw the film?  If that's the case, then reviewing comedies makes even less sense.

I guess this article is just my long-winded way of saying that I'm done reviewing comedies.  It's too difficult for me, and it's borderline pointless.  I'll still review the hybrid action-comedies and stuff like that, but as for flat out funny movies, I'll save my recommendations for my close friends.  And even then, when they ask if the movie is funny, I'll say, "Well, I thought it was funny..."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Uneven Trip to Oz Is Still Fun, Even If It Does Feel a Decade Too Late

Oz the Great and Powerful - Directed by Sam Raimi, written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, and Zach Braff - Rated PG

I really should not have watched Oz.  It kind of represents the very films I've been condemning lately.  My most recent post involved asking, or demanding, that Hollywood stop making this movies that straddle the age line in an attempt to make a film truly for everyone.  I also complained about the fact that they seem to all be in 3D and come across as cash grabs.  Despite all of that, I still went to see Oz the Great and Powerful, and, worse yet, I actually liked it.  In my defense, I did point out that Oz was more prequel than revision of a classic story.   
I must stress that I only "liked" it.  I didn't love this film and odds are I'll never watch it again.  But I enjoyed the experience of the film (in IMAX 3D) and found myself lost in it a time or two.  It is not an amazing film or anything, though.  It is confusing in tone at times, parts of it did rely too heavily on CG, and some major roles are miscast.  More often than not, however, the film entertained me. 

The story is basically the origin of the wizard from the original 1939 film (even though this cannot be considered an official prequel because of rights issues between two different studios).  The wizard (played somewhat successfully by James Franco) is two-bit circus performer who aspires to be a great man, but succeeds only at conning gullible women into sleeping with him.  When this leads to problems within the circus, he escapes, only to be sucked into the vortex of a tornado a la Dorothy.  The wizard wakes up in Oz and begins a quest to save the land from a wicked witch. 

As far as storylines go, the film is pretty childlike and lame.  But who's watching this for a story?  All people need to know is that this is not a remake of the original, so don't expect to see the Tin Man or anyone like that. 

Oz is first and foremost a visual film and in that regard it succeeds.  I watched this in IMAX 3D, and I have to admit that I am a sucker for that format.  For one thing, the inflated ticket price makes me want to like it to justify the expense.  Secondly, when done right, it can look amazing.  Oz is certainly not a home run as far as visuals go, but there are enough moments to justify spending the extra money if IMAX is an option.  Honestly, if I had watched this in regular 2D, I would be much more harsh in my judgment. 

The greatest trick Franco ever pulled was convincing Sam Raimi that he looks like he's from 1905.
The visual and the action suffice, but the acting falls short at times.  Franco plays a swindler with a heart just fine and is believable at times, but he still seemed completely out of place, both in Oz and in the real world of the opening.  Look at Franco, does he look like someone from 1905?  I really wish one of the first two actors considered for the role, Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Depp, would have taken the part.  Mila Kunis plays one of three witches that could become the wicked witch (Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams are the other two), and she seems out of place, as well.  The rest of the cast is fine, with Zach Braff being the only standout, in my opinion. 

It's hard to get behind this film because it just seems like director Sam Raimi is trying to one-up Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  To be fair, he does just that, as this film is much more enjoyable.  It's just that Raimi, who is already pretty similar to Burton, should not be doing the same safe, lame work that Burton has relegated himself to.  Raimi would be better suited to stick with film's like his last effort, the sickeningly fun Drag Me to Hell.  On an uplifting note, he has said that he doesn't plan on directing the already green-lit sequel.  And on an even more uplifting note, Raimi has said that he is working on a script for Evil Dead 4, later clarified to actually be Army of Darkness 2.  In fact, many people have noted, and I agree, that Oz is very similar in structure to Army of Darkness.

Which brings me to the biggest source of contention for a film like this: what is it?  Is it a children's movie, a teen movie, or a family film.  I guess I would say it's a family film above all, but it contains elements of everything.  Is it too intense for little kids?  Maybe.  I think the original Wizard of Oz film is more disturbing than this film, though.  (CG flying monkeys have nothing on the 1939 version of a flying monkey...)    Sam Raimi did toss in a screaming witch scene (which seems to be a requirement for each of his films) that could bother some children.  This complaint applies to the humor, also.  Some of the gags are childish, but then there are multiple jokes about the wizard being promiscuous.  Sure, most of it will go over younger heads, but it still felt uneven.

Sure, this flying monkey might look goofy, but I'd still freak out if I saw this thing in person.  CG monkeys don't scare me...
Perhaps the largest part of the audience wasn't looking for any type of film other than a new Oz movie.  Let's face it, it's not like the franchise has been utilized with any regularity (although now I'm sure it is about to be exhausted).  I must admit that childhood nostalgia for that classic film was the biggest reason I bought a ticket.  But this leads me to my potential biggest problem.  I always enjoyed the original because of how each character was a physical representation of elements from Dorothy's real life.  That's fine because she wakes up back in Kansas, having learned a lesson.  So Oz is a place of her imagination.  After a little research, I found out that the film made it all a dream while the books by L. Frank Baum considered Oz to be a real place.  This film claims to be an adaptation of the books rather than a prequel to the film, so it is not beholden to that dream concept.  Okay, but then why are so many characters obviously figments of the wizard's subconscious if Oz is a real place?  The China doll with the broken legs is the wheelchair bound girl the wizard couldn't cure in the real world.  His flying chimp helper shares the same DNA as his real world helper.  There are more examples and each one is played by the same actor in each world.  Kids might not have issues with that, but that question stuck with me more than anything else in the film.  I just find it cheap for the film to cherry pick elements from both sources. 

These problems didn't really occur to me while I watched the movie.  That is the most important thing, I suppose.  Oz the Great and Powerful kept me entertained, and I didn't think of most of these negative things until later on.  Sure, a good movie should hold up under scrutiny, but I still consider it a success if it provided entertainment in the moment...and all in 3D!  I know, I know, the 3D thing is getting old, both the element itself and the complaints about it.  I must admit that this is the perfect film to utilize 3D.  The original film ushered in color in an interesting way, so it only makes sense for this film to begin as a square, black-and-white film only to expand in color and dimension when Oz is reached.  This should have been one of the first new 3D movies.  Maybe that's the problem.  This film should have been released five or six years ago.  Then maybe it would just be considered a fun time at the movies.  Instead, it's a fun time, but the scent of cash grab is still in the air.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

These Revisionist Fairy Tale Movies Must Stop!

You paid for something just like this a few years ago, so...
Now that Jack the Giant Slayer has officially sort of bombed, it would be nice if I could write the obituary for the revisionist fairy tale genre.  (Not sure if that is the title others are giving this recent slew of “okay at best” fairy tale movies, but that’s what I’m going with.)  But I can’t.  Not because great fairy tale movies are right around the corner, but because of the sheer fact that more are coming out.  It doesn’t seem to matter that no one is actually asking for these movies. 
Let’s begin with how this even happened.  I blame Johnny Depp.  No, wait, people (including me) like him.  Okay, I blame Avatar.  No, that won’t work, either.  The internet may have grown to hate that movie, but actual people apparently really liked it (once again, including me).  I’ve got it: 3D is to blame.  I can get behind that, and so can a decent amount of people.
Allow me to explain.  Avatar came out a few years ago and made all that money.  Some genius in Hollywood decided that it must have been because of the 3D.  That certainly explains why 3D has been a part of film world conversation ever since, but that doesn’t necessarily explain these new fairy tale movies.  Alice in Wonderland, a children’s fairy tale, just happened to be the next family friendly film to be released in glorious 3D, and it made far more money than it deserved.  It made over a billion dollars worldwide…ridiculous.  Is it any wonder that Oz the Great and Powerful looks more like a prequel to Alice than it does to The Wizard of Oz?  But more on that later…
The reason isn’t all that important, though.  At this point, the studios need to listen to the audiences.  In general, mass audiences hate revisionist fairy tales.  Let’s go through the list of recent films and their estimated domestic gross and budget (according to

Have they learned nothing from us?

The Brothers Grimm made $38 million and cost $88 million.
Red Riding Hood made $38 and cost $42.
Mirror Mirror made $65 and cost $85.
Snow White and the Huntsman made $155 and cost $170.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters made $54 and cost $50.
Jack the Giant Slayer has made $29 so far and reportedly cost $195.

There are no massive bombs listed here (Jack might eventually qualify), and all of the films that have finished their run ended up making more than their budget after worldwide grosses are applied.  None of these films were smash hits, either.  The only one getting a sequel is Snow White, but I’ll address that “hit” in a minute.  What is most frustrating about this list is that amount of money spent on these films that could be used elsewhere.  But back to the list itself. 
The Brothers Grimm stands out since it was released years before Alice and this whole fairy tale frenzy we’re dealing with at the moment.  I included this movie (which I actually like, by the way) because it is an example that shows audiences didn’t want this stuff back in 2005 and they still don’t want it in 2013.  I know that I said I enjoyed this film, but I’m glad it didn’t start a trend.  This film’s lackluster performance stopped the fairy tale movement before it began, then Alice came out and we’ve been force fed this fairy tale crap ever since. 
Things would have been fine if it had ended with Grimm.  The people who want to see an edgier version of a fairy tale would have their fix and we could be spared the rest of the crap.  Red Riding Hood was too mundane to even remember.  Mirror Mirror, despite being directed by Tarsem Singh, was family friendly drivel.  Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters…well, just say that title out loud and try not to laugh at the stupidity of it.  (I have not gotten around to seeing this one, and I will admit that it looks more promising than its name suggests.)  I never intended to watch Jack the Giant Slayer for multiple reasons.  The CG looked too fake, the human characters looked too goofy, and I never really liked the original story anyway.  Actually, you know what?  I can’t remember if I liked that story growing up, mainly because I was a small child when it was meant to appeal to me.  So why is this film being marketed as some grand action adventure for all ages when the source material is meant only for children? 
Most of these new fairy tales fall into this weird in-between zone.  They try so hard to be for everyone that they end up being for nearly no one.  The exception to this is Snow White and the Huntsman, which succeeded only because it ended up being just right for the Twilight crowd.  This film is being considered a success to the point that a sequel is in the works, but let’s put this in perspective.  The cartoon version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made (over years of re-releases) $185 million.  If you adjust that, it rockets up to $877 million.  You know why that made all the money?  Because it was marketed to the proper audience: children.
Familiar faces! Take my money!
Snow White and the Huntsman’s success is a product of casting, good timing, and not-being-that-bad-ness.  It had Kristen Stewart (whose mass appeal I will never understand), Chris Hemsworth (Thor!), and Charlize Theron (who doesn’t necessarily bring in big audiences, but her performance was noted).  And I remember when this came out.  It was the only major release that weekend and The Avengers had already been out for a month and Men in Black 3 was under performing in its second weekend.  And, most importantly, this one is not all that bad.  In fact, the worst parts about the film are the forced Snow White moments.  You know, like any awful scene with the dwarfs.  If this had simply been an adventure movie without the Snow White part, it might have been truly good.  Because that fairy tale crap is for children. 
The primary definition of a fairy tale (according to is “a story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings.”  The key word in that definition is “children.”  Sure, definitions differ and some don’t claim that a fairy tale is exclusively for children.  But look at the plots of these films and tell me that they aren’t more at home in a Disney animated feature.  I’m not saying let’s put an end to all fairy tales.  I’m just saying let’s keep them where they belong: animated and rated G. 
This is  Teens?  Adults?  Anyone...?
This brings me back to Oz.  To be fair, this one is not exactly a revisionist fairy tale because it is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and isn’t attempting to be a gritty new take on it.  But it is being marketed (down to the nearly identical release date) very much like Alice in Wonderland.  I am afraid that it will make an immense amount of money and there will be another influx of crappy to mediocre revisions of children’s classics for the next few years.  I fear that this brutal cycle could go on indefinitely…and in 3D. 
What’s the point of all this griping?  I want the talent that has been involved in some of this mediocre crap to be used for more original and entertaining work.  Johnny Depp and Tim Burton once made Ed Wood.  Sam Raimi is responsible for the Evil Dead franchise.  Tarsem Singh made The Fall (check that out if you want to see a childhood fairy tale presented in a mature and entertaining way).  Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood) made (insert one of his dozen-plus awesome roles here).  Tommy Wirkola (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) made Dead Snow.  You get the idea. 
Hollywood can still make fairy tale movies and make more money doing it without wasting the talent of these people.  They could just make them as animated features meant for children.  They can even mess with the formula and modernize it a bit.  The audience won’t mind, or won’t remember it later on anyway.  I’m not suggesting, by the way, that there is no talent in the animated world; quite the opposite, in fact.  It’s just that the animated folk know what to do with fairy tales and the people behind most these films don’t. 
Of course, maybe I’m wrong and Oz the Great and Powerful will turn out to be the beginning of a golden era of Hollywood.  But I doubt it.  There’s just something wrong about Sam Raimi directing a PG rated fairy tale…