Everybody’s talking about G.I. Joe: Retaliation‘s release getting pushed back to next year. What are the implications of Paramount’s surprise move? Is it really just about getting a 3D post-conversion? Read all about this topic and more in today’s Weekly Digression!
Dominating a lot of the talk in comics-and-toys circles this week is the news of Paramount pushing back the premiere of G.I. Joe: Retaliation a full nine months to March 29, 2013, a little over a month before it was supposed to debut in theaters on June 29. The official company line is that the delay is so that the film can be post-converted into 3D, but I don’t think anyone is really buying it. Unconfirmed reports published online indicate that audience reaction to test screenings were overwhelmingly negative, and star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has confirmed via his Twitter account that beyond the 3D post-conversion, the film’s cast and crew will also be re-shooting scenes.
There’s speculation online that Paramount got cold feet after seeing Universal Studios’ Battleship—another film based on a popular Hasbro property—wilt in the face of the box-office juggernaut that is The Avengers (Disney/Marvel’s superhero ensemble film more than doubled Battleship‘s weekend take despite being in theaters for almost a month) and set the new record for the worst domestic opening by a film that cost at least $200 million. Looking at the major summer movie releases, it does seem like Paramount’s performance anxiety might be well-justified: Much-anticipated Alien quasi-prequel Prometheus premieres across North America on June 8, Disney/Pixar’s Brave drops on June 22, Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man is due out in theaters on July 3, and the final entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman film trilogy The Dark Knight Rises is set to be released on July 22. The competition for the summer movie viewer’s dollar will be stiff, indeed.
But will the justifiably negative speculation surrounding Paramount’s move and its impact on marketing and word-of-mouth obviate whatever positives the studio can gain from adding 3D and moving the premiere to a less-crowded month? Cynical observers will interpret the decision to add 3D as a desperate attempt by Paramount to squeeze more money out of what test screenings presumably indicate will be disappointingly small audiences relative to the film’s budget. And moving a big-budget, special effects-laden action film’s debut from the crowded summer months to the spring months is no panacea either, particularly if it is already saddled with a negative reputation prior to its debut. Disney bumped up John Carter‘s North American release from June 8, 2012 to March 9, 2012 so as to avoid competing with its own The Avengers, but this did nothing to dispel the bad buzz surrounding the film generated by a terribly confused branding and marketing campaign and Disney’s embargo on film reviews one week before its release (earlier this month, Disney released a quarterly earnings report citing John Carter‘s poor box-office performance as the primary cause of a massive $84 million loss).
Maybe this will all work out for Hasbro and Paramount and maybe the movie will be a box-office success when it eventually premieres nine months from now. But my feelings echo those of long-time G.I. Joe fan site operator Justin Bell’s, who, after learning of the delay, wrote on GeneralsJoes.com that
It seems as if every ounce of positive energy for this film has been totally snuffed out. Immediate reaction is the film is terrible and they are scrambling to try and salvage something. In my opinion, this move sends a terrible, terrible message.
After two weeks of using Reebok Realflex Run “transition” shoes in my workouts with no issues whatsoever as far as lower leg discomfort (I’d even taken to running without the patellar tendon strap that I’ve been using for the past 12 years or so for left knee stability and to counter my left leg’s chronic patellar tendonitis), I felt confident enough to go from a transition shoe to a real zero-drop minimalist shoe in my continuing quest to achieve a more efficient and natural running form to strengthen my lower leg muscles and reduce the incidence of knee injuries.
Last weekend, I picked up a pair of Merrell Barefoot Run Trail Glove shoes. They are very light, much lighter than the already-lightweight Reeboks I’ve been using (the Merrell site lists the Trail Glove’s weight at 175.8 g). Unlike the Realflex, which has a heel drop (i.e., the height difference between heel and forefoot) of around 10 mm—note that most traditional cushioned running shoes have a heel drop in the range of 12 to 15 mm—the Trail Glove is what is called a “zero-drop” shoe, with no height difference between the heel and the forefoot, a feature that encourages a more natural and efficient running stride and landing on the midfoot instead of the heel. The shoe is very, very low to the ground, and even with the 1 mm thick forefoot shock absorption plate, I could feel the underfoot terrain quite well. I plan on using the shoe primarily on asphalt and concrete running surfaces, but the aggressive tread pattern on the Vibram-branded outsole looks like it will provide more-than-sufficient traction for the muddy, slushy, and snowy road conditions that I’ll inevitably encounter when the fickle British Columbia winter rolls around. The shoe has some sort of antimicrobial treatment that’s supposed to keep the stinkies away (particularly important for sockless running), but I suppose I’ll only really find out if it works with time. They’re also ridiculously flexible. As you can see in the picture below, I can easily ball the shoe up with one hand
It does feel weird paying so much more for “less shoe,” though—the Trail Gloves retail for $129.99 CDN at the local athletic gear shop, while the Realflex Runs go for $79.99 CDN.
I thought I was pretty well-prepared to start running in the Trail Gloves in earnest, even though Merrell’s site and almost every online review I’d read advised that first-time zero-drop runners take things slowly. I reasoned that being something of a midfoot-striker already when running in traditional running shoes, I was equipped with a decent anatomical base for minimalist running. I used the Trail Gloves (without socks) to run for the first time five days ago, for the half-mile speed-building workout I use to break up my calisthenics and weight training routines.
The design of the shoe pretty much forces one to run efficiently, shortening one’s stride, landing on the midfoot instead of the heel, and incorporating a lot more active forefoot flexion on toe-off. Even just standing in them feels very different from the usual running shoe experience: The lack of heel rise will probably make the experienced traditional running shoe wearer feel a little off-balance, at least initially. I suppose I could run in them the way I would run in more traditional running shoes if I really wanted to, but it would be awkward and quite punishing to the heel and knee. There’s hardly any cushioning in the Trail Glove, and insisting on a long stride and heel-crashing in zero-drop minimalist shoes is a recipe for injury. I did notice that I was a tad slower running in the Trail Gloves compared to the Reeboks or my older Adidas Response Trail 16s (I’ve consistently been about 10 to 15 seconds off my usual half-mile time when running in the Trail Gloves), but I figure improving my time is just a matter of getting used to the changes in my form.
I didn’t really feel any differently after running in the Trail Gloves for the first time and I was able to complete the rest of my workout without any issue. It was only after about an hour that I started feeling tightness in both of my calves, just below the lateral head of the gastrocnemius muscle. So much for having a decent base for minimalist running. I suppose I underestimated the weakening effect fifteen years of running in an assortment of super-responsive and heavily-cushioned training shoes could have on my lower leg. This wasn’t the type of soreness that one associates with injury though, it felt more like the good kind of soreness that one feels after healthy exertion, so I know that I’m at least recruiting heretofore neglected muscle bundles with my new running form.
I’ll be mixing up the Trail Gloves with the Reeboks for now, and probably deep into the summer, using the former for harder training days and the latter for “recovery” days. So far, I’m quite happy with the changes I’ve instituted in the running component of my workouts. Minimalist running probably isn’t for everyone given how it seems like a somewhat contentious issue from what I gather from some running-themed message boards online, and I know some experienced runners who’ve been running just fine and injury-free heelstriking with the typical cushioned shoes. But if any of you readers out there experience chronic patellar tendonitis or similar injuries with running, I heartily suggest learning all you can about minimalist running and seeing if it will work for you (don’t forget to consult with a healthcare professional with the appropriate running knowledge/background before doing anything drastic).
- Aim (feat. Qnc) – The Force
- Ian Pooley – Venasque
- Samantha James – Angel Love
- 7th District, Inc. – Destiny
- Basement Jaxx- Red Alert
- Miguel Migs – Giving It All (Miguel Migs Dub Deluxe Mix)
- Only Child (feat. Amp Fiddler) – U Bring Me Vibes
- Four Tet – You Could Ruin My Day
- Blue States – Elios Therepia
- Paco de Lucia – Entre Dos Aguas