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Posts made in: 'Judging by the Trailer' (54) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 54

March 12, 2014 at 11:57am

Judging by the Trailer: "Need for Speed"

Think adapting "War and Peace" is hard? Try adapting the race car video game "Need for Speed."

I think that the Need for Speed trailer's use of a Muse song is actually quite telling. Just as Muse is the broey, populist, dumbed down take on Radiohead's icy grandiosity, Need for Speed seems likewise to be the juvenile spin on Drive's existential exploration of gearhead machismo.

Still, there's a part of me that wants to root for Need for Speed's success, mostly due to its starring turn from Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul. While Paul is no stranger to film, the closest he's come to a star-making film role was a sizable presence in the remake of The Last House on the Left, as well as an affecting supporting role in the indie alcoholism drama, Smashed. Paul's role as Jesse on Breaking Bad earned him a mountain of good will, and it would be a shame to stumble on his first big movie out of the gate.

So, what is this all about? Aaron Paul stars as a man falsely imprisoned for killing someone with a car (I guess, because there are no guns in movies like this, so people like to Death Proof it up), and has now returned to society to seek revenge. He has a need. A need ... for revenge. And speed. But not speed like meth. Those days are over.

Meanwhile, it looks like national treasure Michael Keaton is to Need for Speed as Samuel L. Jackson is to Do the Right Thing (this will all be on the test later), just keeping a running commentary on the goings-on and telling hotheads to chill. No word yet on who Need for Speed's Radio Raheem will be, but my fingers are crossed for Jason Statham.

Even if this ends up being a turkey, it's unlikely that it will seriously hurt Paul's career (one would hope). The guy still has a couple more movies scheduled for release in 2014, including the Ridley Scott-directed Exodus, which will join the likes of Son of God and Noah in making this an oddly religion-focused year for movies. Still, I might end up giving Need for Speed a shot, if for no other reason than I have always had, and continue to have, a need. A need... for Michael Keaton.

March 5, 2014 at 12:40pm

Judging by the Trailer: "300: Rise of an Empire"

here comes a big fan of fancy jewelry and heavy eyeliner, and an even bigger hater of Athens.

I suppose we all knew it was inevitable, this return to the Frank Miller well. With a Sin City sequel on the way, it's about time we get a follow-up to the tastelessly pulpy spectacle of 300. What's most baffling about the whole thing, though, is who has been chosen to take over the helm in Zack Snyder's wake.

Noam Murro, director of 300: Rise of an Empire, was previously only known for one film: the faux Noah Baumbach dramedy, Smart People. Starring Dennis Quaid in the Jeff Daniels role of the antisocial intellectual, Smart People was a passable look at the bad side of elitism and the stifling blowhard culture of academia - all clear signs that its director would surely be destined to send a sword-and-sandals epic blazing to the silver screen, right?


February 25, 2014 at 11:58am

Judging by the Trailer: "Son of God"

Controversial scenes in which an actor with a startling resemblance to Pres. Obama portrayed Satan have been cut from the big-screen version of a hit mini-series about Jesus' life. Photo screenshot via CBS Photograph

Considering the rich history of cheap, hastily produced films aimed at a Christian audience, it's sort of surprising how infrequently a high-profile version of that - like Son of God - comes around. On the whole, Christian moviegoers have never quite wanted for movies that pander to them, but it's the rare occurrence when something like The Passion of the Christ comes down the pike. Consider the recent "War on Christmas" screed, Last Ounce of Courage, which would be laughable if it weren't so infuriating.


February 19, 2014 at 11:01am

Judging by the Trailer: "3 Days to Kill" and "Pompeii 3D"

Will the slave-turned-gladiator save his betrothed as Mount Vesuvius erupts and Pompeii crumbles? Ain’t nothing like love against a backdrop of lava.

As we trudge toward the end of the dismal cinematic months of winter, it's only fitting that I should find myself facing such a dilemma: do I write about the new Paul W.S. Anderson (Alien vs. Predator, Death Race, the Resident Evil franchise) movie, or the new McG (This Means War, Terminator Salvation, Charlie's Angels) movie? Two of the worst working Hollywood directors vying for my attention. Do I go with McG's reheated tale of Kevin Costner's trained assassin trying to settle down and become a family man, or with Anderson's hilarious take on a volcano's complete and utter widespread destruction?


February 11, 2014 at 12:13pm

Judging by the Trailer: "About Last Night"

MATTERS OF THE HART: Kevin Hart and Regina Hall flirt on-screen in "About Last Night."

About Last Night is a photocopy of a photocopy. Adapted from the '80s Rob Lowe/Demi Moore vehicle, About Last Night..., which was itself an adaptation of David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago, this new iteration seems to have morphed its initial premise to the point of abstraction.

About Last Night... boasted an uncommonly honest portrayal of what happens when a one-night stand is extended far beyond its shelf life. Moore and Lowe fell into a relationship that was largely based on sexual chemistry, and because both were too decent to own up to that fact, they found themselves in a fundamentally incompatible relationship that was doomed from the beginning. It didn't help that the two lovebirds were incessantly hounded by their respective best friends (Elizabeth Perkins and Jim Belushi, in what may be his last watchable performance) giving destructive advice.

In 2014's About Last Night, Lowe's bland-yet-handsome character is filled in by Michael Ealy, and the increasingly unavoidable Kevin Hart takes Belushi's boorish lout. Joy Bryant and Regina Hall have the Moore and Perkins characters. While the best friends are still exhausting busybodies, the dynamics here are a little different. While Belushi and Perkins were bitter rivals, Hart and Hall are an item - presumably because Hart couldn't be quite as believably repellant as Belushi was.

What may end up being the most intriguing element of this remake is its writer. A woman is offering a solo take on Mamet's Sexual Perversity (About Last Night... did have Denise DeClue, though she cowrote it with her husband, Tim Kazurinsky). Leslye Headland, herself a playwright turned screenwriter, may end up giving the material's admittedly somewhat dated exploration of romance the jolt that it needs to enter the 21st century. Only time will tell.

About Last Night... was a rarity: a mature romantic comedy that balanced sexiness, humor, and gender politics with mostly deft aplomb, which is far from an easy feat. This new iteration has a lot to live up to.

See Also

A Nerd Alert has been issued for the South Sound

February 6, 2014 at 3:58pm

Judging by the Trailer: "The LEGO Movie"

"The LEGO Movie" salutes every kid's hero with a thousand (snap-on) faces. Photo by Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture - © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

Before we get started, I think it is my duty to urge you to fall into the deliriously insane rabbit hole that is the movie Foodfight!. Set in a Toy Story-aping world of sentient corporate food mascots, Foodfight! is a fascinatingly inept failure of a movie. Almost certainly conceived as some sort of long con, the animated film cost $65 million dollars to make (though it looks cobbled together from an old Windows Movie Maker demo reel), stars a cavalcade of voice talent, and was released in 2012 after sitting on a shelf for the better part of a decade. It may have a legitimate claim to being the worst film ever made.

Foodfight! never left my mind while I watched the trailer for The LEGO Movie. Because LEGO has no mythology of its own, The LEGO Movie assembles a roster of pop culture icons in LEGO form - Batman, Wonder Woman, God and Abraham Lincoln all make appearances - to surround a plucky no-name as the lead.

It's a head-scratcher trying to figure out just who this movie is for. Of course, there are legions of LEGO fans out there, and the recent LEGO video games are apparently quite charming, but one could easily make the case that The LEGO Movie is some sort of meta-commentary on the state of franchise adaptations in an age of withering creativity. In which case, I totally see what you did, there. But, the sad truth is that this is likely a result of that withering creativity, not a commentary thereof.

So, what we are left with is an oddity. Though this film's pedigree handily outranks that of Foodfight! - as almost everything must - it doesn't take much to see a kindred spirit shared by these two films. The biggest difference seems to be that Foodfight!, shameful disaster though it may be, will always be remembered for its awfulness by fans of shitty cinema. The LEGO Movie's legacy is less clear.

My guess is that Foodfight! will be the "burn out" to The LEGO Movie's "fade away."

LINK: A Nerd Alert has been issued for the South Sound

January 22, 2014 at 12:33pm

Judging by the Trailer: "I, Frankenstein"

Here’s what you will see in the trailer: Aaron Eckhart with some gnarly scars across his face, giant winged beasts and Gothic architecture that looks straight out of a video game. Nice.

Well, we all knew it would come to this, didn't we? And you know what? You're ALL guilty! Years after making jokes about how the trend of sex-ifying monsters (a la the Twilight saga) would lead to sexy mummies and swamp things became so rote that they established themselves as unspoken truths, we now find ourselves gazing deeply into the abyss. And what stares back at us? None other than the grim visage of I, Frankenstein.

This time around, the object of our increasingly complicated monster fetish is not a hairless 20-something, but rather a ripped Aaron Eckhart, so, I mean, there's that I guess. Eckhart - oh once great Eckhart - will soon be sitting on talk show couches telling lots of stories about how fun and grueling it is to do your own stunts, while no doubt remaining tellingly silent about the rest of I, Frankenstein.

Before we get too deep into this, I just have to point out the fallacy of the film's title. As we'll recall, Frankenstein is not the name of the monster, but of the monster's creator. Aaron Eckhart does not play Dr. Frankenstein. I'm just saying: I, Frankenstein's Monster.

Anyhoo, there is precious little to talk about with regards to what actually happens on screen in this trailer. It appears that there are legions of Frankensteins set to conquer the world, along with some predictably cheap-looking gargoyles, and it's up to Eckhart to stop them. Turning the story of Frankenstein's monster on its head (read: this ain't your grandpa's Frankenstein), this time around the monster is no lumbering hulk, but a sleek, chiseled movie star who has super "strength, speed, and stamina," and who rocks the blazer-and-hoodie combo, natch.

To end on a happy note: there doesn't appear to be too much psychosexual interplay between a chaste teenage girl and her paranormal boyfriend, so that's something. Now, let's all take our cold showers and await the sexy Sasquatch movie.

January 15, 2014 at 1:35pm

Judging by the Trailer: "Devil's Due"

After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy.

Dear lord, it's another one. A scant two weeks following the release of Paranormal Activity's fifth perfunctory installment, The Marked Ones, a nation finds itself faced with the grim reality that there is yet another limp found footage movie to capitalize on our apparently continued fear of demonic possession. At least, this time around, the title's a pun, which is always more than welcome.

Let's start with that title, since that is surely what the writers did. Oh, how I would've loved to have duct-taped a camera to an oscillating fan for that pitch meeting.

"I don't know, what if it's about a demon baby and we called it Devil's Due?"

"Fred, you're a genius! Get me salmon pages by Monday!"

As for the trailer, well, it's exhausting. That's it. The main feeling I came away with after those two minutes was just pure exhaustion. Boy meets girl, boy films girl, boy never stops filming girl, reviewer wonders how they can ever approach anything even close to a normal life if one half of the couple just never stops filming stuff, girl gets possessed, girl gives birth to wretched freak of nature, blah blah barf.

A big upside to making these chintzy found-footage movies is that you save so much money on production costs that you can afford to do bullshit promotional stunts like setting loose an animatronic devil baby on the streets of New York to needlessly punish passersby for being compassionate. But what kind of assholes would endeavor to do a stupid and mean-spirited thing like that? Only the worst kind of person!

Ah, well, that settles that, I guess.

See Devil's Due in theaters! It's made by people who hate good samaritans and also babies and definitely cinema as an art form and oh why not they probably also think that global warming is a myth!

See Also

A Nerd Alert has been issued for the South Sound

January 7, 2014 at 10:59am

Judging by the Trailer: "The Legend of Hercules"

If he bleeds ...

Before you get too excited, let's just get this out of the way: no, The Legend of Hercules is not the Kevin Sorbo comeback vehicle we've all been waiting for.

Instead, this is a $70mil action-adventure picture that looks appallingly cheap. It makes old YouTube clips of Xena: Warrior Princess look like Avatar. It makes the recent, baffling 47 Ronin look like a Terrence Malick film. The special effects chosen to be put on display - in the thing that's supposed to make you want to see the movie - look about as elegant as that old flying toasters screensaver from the '90s.

Luckily, we've got one hell of a beefcake around to carry this quickly approaching flop on his broad shoulders. That beefcake? Some guy named Kellan Lutz (from the Twilight movies, evidently) who, tellingly, is never shown uttering one single line of dialogue. One assumes this is because the very idea of that meathead face forming a syllable is too much for modern audiences to take. Seeing him speak would be like those old-timey audiences ducking at the sight of that on-coming movie train.

Even in the movie mass grave that is January, this is an astonishingly shabby-looking product, including many scenes designed to rip off and gain credibility from 300. Never have I more yearned for Zack Snyder's involvement in a film. Instead, at the helm, we have Renny Harlin (The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, The Long Kiss Godnight, Deep Blue Sea), that purveyor of batshit action movies that defy classification and confound critical thought.

I think it's safe to say that The Legend of Hercules is destined to be a box office bomb (much like Harlin's own Cutthroat Island, which was long classified as the biggest box office flop of all time) because, I mean, had you heard of it before just now?

But I kind of hope that it finds its audience with bad movie connoisseurs on home video. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, for a movie that looks this terrible.

See Also

A Nerd Alert has been issued for the South Sound

December 31, 2013 at 12:36pm

Judging by the Trailer: "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones"

They call this "Activity"?

It's the end of 2013, and by this point we've all been flooded with a deluge of year-end "best of" lists. How sick of them must you be? But fear not! At Judging by the Trailer, there is no best of. There is only Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones - one of the most laughably inept trailers I've seen in quite some time.

And why shouldn't it be laughable? As the fifth installment in that franchise of diminishing returns, Paranormal Activity, The Marked Ones is left to pick up the pieces of a broken genre (found-footage horror) and listlessly toss them out in that cinematic graveyard known as January.

We begin with the exploration of what historians may note as the most fearless amateur cameraman of all time. It's one thing to document every waking moment, as this gentleman seems to do, but when it comes to courageously filming gang violence, breaking and entering and (not to put too fine a point on it) horrifying fucking apparitions, this guy deserves some sort of Egon Spengler medal of bravery. He is an honorary Ghostbuster. He may as well have his own crystal skull-themed brand of vodka.

Things go from bad to worse to SPOOKY when two teenagers break into a murdered old lady's apartment to find it adorned with some variety of voodoo hocus pocus, after which one of the kids finds himself possessed (don't you hate it when that happens?). Gone are the modest days of strapping a video camera to an oscillating fan in the hopes that something might jump out and scare you - this ain't your grandma's found-footage horror. What we have now is essentially a standard narrative with bad cinematography and a mouthy camera operator.

The scariest thing about The Marked Ones, it seems to me, is that anyone with a functioning brain and a tongue they've yet to swallow might find themselves ordering a ticket for this nonsense. Happy New Year!

See Also

The finest nerdy projects of 2013

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