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Posts made in: 'Judging by the Trailer' (54) Currently Viewing: 31 - 40 of 54

December 24, 2013 at 10:21am

Judging by the Trailer: "47 Ronin"

"Whoa!" Keanu is Kai, the samurai.

Some might say it's unfair to kick a film when it is so obviously down. I mean, it's hard to call a film with a reported $225m budget an underdog, but this notoriously troubled production is almost certainly doomed to commercial failure, and a prompt one-way trip to obscurity. Still, the trailer is hilarious and the film is wonderfully misguided, so it may be that 47 Ronin will live on with bad movie aficionados on home video.

So, where to start? The only logical entry point into this film is in the befuddling casting of Keanu Reeves as the lead in a retelling of a classic Japanese fable. Reeves is an actor who's spent the majority of his career getting flack for his wooden acting and surfer dude patois, but I've tended to defend the guy. See My Own Private Idaho for proof that some chops lurk somewhere beneath that beautiful visage.

The trailer opens with Reeves as a slave (referred to, here, as a "half-breed," which yikes), being rescued by a samurai so that he may be taken along in a mission for revenge. It's all a little too Django Unchained, but better that than to see this movie's take on 12 Years a Slave. What follows is a bewildering flipbook of queasy special effects as the titular 47 ronin assemble to fight a series of ribbon dancers. Reeves, tellingly, has very few lines beyond standard action movie utterances.

IMDb tells me Keanu Reeves claims that the film was first shot in Japanese, to appease the largely Japanese cast, before then being shot in English. I don't know much about the business end of filmmaking, to be sure, but that strikes me as wildly unnecessary. Oh well. A movie like this is designed to play better overseas than in the U.S. - though it's currently tanking in Japan, so oops.

47 Ronin - a movie I will never see (sober, anyway), but by which I am endlessly fascinated. Dance on, ribbons. Dance on.

See Also

A Nerd Alert! has been issued

December 17, 2013 at 11:27am

Judging by the Trailer: "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"

Ron Burgundy continues his STYNCLSY ways. Photo credit: Gemma LaMana / © MMXIII Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Almost a decade ago, a young Rev. Adam McKinney sat down in a packed theater and had a groundbreaking exposure to absurdist, largely improvised comedy. Seeing Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy in a theater that radiated with warm laughter was a revelation. "Is this the funniest movie ever made?" hyperbolically thought a young, dumb me.

The short answer is no. While Anchorman is a perfectly fine comedy, it shrinks upon subsequent viewings, separated from a hysterical audience. In the following years, I and many others would grow weary of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's brand of comedy, which essentially just boils down to a couple of people standing around and saying weird stuff to each other. It's the type of improvisational comedy that's tailor-made for blooper reels during the credits.

And yet, why does the trailer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues bring me such unbridled joy? I don't miss any of these characters or actors-in fact, part of the reason why it took so long for the sequel to come out was that the four main players had shot to A-list status in Hollywood, which would necessitate exorbitant paychecks to reunite them all. Having these actors constantly around makes them a little harder to miss.

I'm still a little jaded when it comes to the stand-around-and-say-goofy-stuff style of comedy, with which this trailer is positively jam-packed. Ferrell still ejaculates nonsense like "biscuits and gravy!" - and there's generally a lot of screaming.

But still, there's something charming about this blatantly stupid little film rising to such prominence and requiring such non-stop fanfare upon its return. In a time when comedies are largely disappointments, Anchorman still feels like a bunch of weirdos getting away with something. It's easy to imagine them giggling to themselves at the mere thought that this silly dalliance would actually find its way to theaters, let alone become a smash hit.

It's a sly bit of anarchy in the middle of a giant machine, which is rare enough in this day and age.

See Also

A Nerd Alert! has been issued for the South Sound

December 12, 2013 at 9:50am

Judging by the Trailer: "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug"

Bilbo Baggins, so concerned about his doilies just three hours of screen time ago, now punches his sword right through the trachea of a goblin.

I was going to start off this article by saying that you couldn't pay me to sit through another Tolkien movie, but that's just not true: $25, plus food and drink, or best offer.

My pliability not withstanding, the fact remains that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy has stolen away from me roughly 15 hours or so, at last count. Heavenly Creatures would've given me back 90 minutes, but The Frighteners cancels that right out, and Dead Alive is essentially a wash.

Read more...

November 27, 2013 at 11:24am

Judging by the Trailer: "Oldboy"

Josh Brolin, peeking out to see if Rev. Adam McKinney has gone.

Back in 2005, I was a projectionist at The Grand Cinema. It was a heady time of passionate discussions on music and film, and it was the time when I was most steeped in difficult and adventurous art. Somehow, I stumbled across as film called Oldboy - a classic of extreme Korean cinema. Oldboy is impeccably stylish, darkly comedic, viscerally violent, and staggeringly emotional. It's pulp filmmaking elevated to high art.

It was such an eye-opening film that I endeavored to convince my friends and co-workers to seek it out, but I was met with stubborn refusal. "Sounds too violent," they'd say. At the time, my co-workers were embedded in a world of quirk and indie lite, though I suspect that they also just got kick out of getting me worked up. When a polar-bear-and-Bjork-loving friend accidentally ended up watching it, the review wasn't great, so to this day I have never succeeded in spreading the gospel of Oldboy.

Cut to 2013 and Oldboy's inevitable American remake. Justin Lin was originally attached to direct, but he thankfully became too busy with the Fast and the Furious franchise to be bothered, so what we find ourselves with is a Spike Lee joint.

On the surface, everything appears to be in its right place. A drunken lout (this time played by Josh Brolin) wakes up to find himself imprisoned in a motel room, where he is then held for many years before finally being released without explanation. From then on, the freed man is sent on a journey for revenge, to find out who kidnapped him and why. Even the infamous hallway fight scene seems to have been recreated.

The question that will never leave my mind is a plaintive "Why?" Why bother doing this? The Oldboy of yore is propulsive enough to win over any subtitle averse moviegoer, yet America had to get its grubby little hands all over it. I respect Spike Lee quite a bit as a director, and perhaps this will turn out as well as Scorsese's Americanized version of Infernal Affairs (AKA The Departed), or the perfectly adequate Americanized version of Let the Right One In (dumbly shortened to Let Me In).

But, until then, I'll just have to wait and throw my movie-nerd hissy fit until I finally get the chance to see our new Oldboy, arms huffily crossed.

See Also

A Nerd Alert has been issued for this week

November 20, 2013 at 2:42pm

Judging by the Trailer: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" - a delicious middle course?

Note: Unfortunately, I am not able to do a proper review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, due to a crippling bowling accident that has left my hands in a state unfit for typing. Rather than hiring a typist to take dictation (as I've done for this preamble, at quite an expense), I'll instead reprint this ill-fated instant messaging conversation between my precocious 14-year-old cousin, Jeneva, and myself.

Jeneva: OMG COUSIN ADAM!! Have you seen the preview for the new HUNGER GAMES?

Adam: What? There's another one of those? I'll take a look. Oh, and HELLO, Jeneva. Kids...

Jeneva: WELL? What do you think? Wanna see it with me opening day??

Adam: I mean, I never saw the first one. Mostly this trailer just seemed like gobbledygook. Am I getting it right that there's a character named Marvel played by an actor named Jack Quaid? Good lord.

Jeneva: BUT IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL I"M CRYING COUSIN ADAM WHY ARE YOU SUCH A JERK?!

Adam: OK! Calm down. I mean, it looks fine. I like Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson and all that.

Jeneva: Who?

Adam: Never mind.

Jeneva: KATNISS IS SO PRETTY.

Adam: I guess so. Why is she still fighting in the Hunger Games? Didn't that end in the first one?

Jeneva: I thought you said you never saw it! HAHA.

Adam: I didn't, I just...

Jeneva: HAHA.

Adam: Stop it.

Jeneva: OMFG YOU SAW THE HUNGER GAMES AND YOU'RE A GROWN MAN WITH NO GIRLFRIEND AND A JOB THAT'S NOT EVEN REALLY REAL!!

Adam: Wow, that's really mean and accurate.

Jeneva: You probably forgot you saw it because you drink too much and you should have gone to college and your haircut looks stupid and everyone knows that you're a fraud.

Adam: What?

Jeneva: HAHAHA.

Adam: ...

Jeneva: Cousin Adam...?

Adam: I don't want to see this movie with you any more.

Jeneva: NO! Come on, I was just joking.

Adam: I can't believe I paid for your archery classes. YOU WILL NEVER BE KATNISS EVERDEEN. This Internet chat is over!

See Also

A Nert Alert has been issued!

November 14, 2013 at 12:04pm

Judging by the Trailer: "The Best Man Holiday"

"The Best Man Holiday" is (Unapologetically) part movie, part soap opera.

All right, can I just level with you for a minute? In this here column, I do a whole lot of shit-talking about movies I'll never see. It's kinda the whole point of this thing: I watch a trailer, I judge it as harshly as I can and then I stave off the ever-present fear of my own mortality for a few blissful, fleeting moments. That's the trade-off.

Usually, this is an easy enough task, with the sheer volume of dreck that comes down the pike in Hollywood. Riddick? Battle of the Year? Last Vegas? Fuck those movies. Straight-up fuck 'em.

Unfortunately, the only movie coming out this week (besides The Wolf of Wall Street, but that's a limited release and besides, it's Martin fucking Scorsese) is The Best Man Holiday. Besides pointing out the clumsiness of the title, there's not a whole lot else I can say about what appears to be a perfectly decent, well-meaning romantic comedy.

The sequel to the modestly charming 1999 comedy, The Best Man, this film looks about as innocuous as they come. Featuring a cast of very pretty, affable people, it presupposes a whatever-the-neutral-version-of-dystopian-is present in which everyone basically gets along and has really great smiles. The end.

Instead of wallowing in pleasantness, can we just talk about the newly released trailer for that awful-looking Robocop reboot? Good.

Robocop: The New Class doesn't open until February (prime movie-going season!), but I just need to talk about it with someone besides my therapist. Starring Joel Kinnaman (the only redeeming quality of AMC's The Killing) as the titular Robocop, this new version eschews the '80s ultraviolence of the original in favor of a PG-13 story about robots with feelings.

While the trailer would love to entice you with people like Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton - do not give in to temptation. 1987's Robocop will always and forever be the one true Robocop, no matter how much the shadowy overlords of Hollywood would like to convince you otherwise. Rise up, readers! Rise, and refuse to worship false Robocop! Sic semper tyrannis!

But The Best Man Holiday looks OK.

See Also

A Nerd Alert! has been issued for this week

November 7, 2013 at 3:40pm

Judging by the Trailer: "Thor: The Dark World"

Hemsworth's Thor is still big and blond.

Continuing in the baffling tradition of the gritty Dark Knight-ifying of superhero sequels, we find ourselves in the company of Thor: The Dark World. Whereas the first Thor (which I was forced to see for this here rag) was inexplicably a rom-com set partially in a Tremors-esque desert town and partially in the Rainbow Road course of Mario Kart, Thor the Thequel subverts the inane goofiness of the first installment in favor of ominous skies and a droning pound of a musical score.

After the events of The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World finds the titular Norse god teaming up with his ne'er-do-well brother, Loki - who just got done almost destroying planet Earth - to stop some manner of unnamed threat. Returning, once again, is Natalie Portman as Jane (maybe a Tarzan nod, there?), Thor's scientist love interest who basically vanished for The Avengers to help clear up that filmic traffic jam.

In addition to generally being thematically darker, this new Thor adventure also appears to be literally darker, in the sense that I largely couldn't tell what the hell was going on during much of this trailer. Battle sequences and portentous shots of villains are buried beneath piles of murk that will doubtlessly become murkier should you be so unlucky as to find yourself at a 3D screening of the film.

Following the lead of the first film, which hired an overqualified director of dramas with little experience in the area of CGI tentpole projects (Kenneth Branagh), Thor the Thecond has been helmed by Alan Taylor - who has a long history of directing prestige cable shows (The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men), but no action films, save for his upcoming stab at an entry in the Terminator franchise.

Expect some more interminable scenes of faux-deep sword-and-sandal dialogue, interspersed with choppy actions scenes, but with none of the redeeming slapstick of the first film. Thor, you can count me out.

See Also

A Nerd Alert has been issued!

October 31, 2013 at 11:04am

Judging by the Trailer: "Last Vegas"

"Last Vegas" is like a reverse Mentos commercial starring old guys.

I'd like to start out by just going ahead an awarding Last Vegas with the 2013 title of "Most Likable Cast in a Movie I Will Never See." The film - predicated on the idea that Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and Robert De Niro would EVER, in any universe, be longtime best friends - is the latest in a series of hee-larious examinations of old people trying to have fun.

"Who do they think they are? Young people?" scoff the makers of Last Vegas.

The trailer opens with Douglas having a conference call with his very best buddies to let them know that he's finally tying the knot. Off to Vegas they go for a weekend of sin and debauchery in honor of Douglas's upcoming nuptials. It isn't long before these four legendary actors are forced to say things about how they have hemorrhoids older than the 20-somethings at these swank nightclubs.

Kevin Kline actually utters the line, "We're gonna party like it's 1959," shortly after confusing Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson for someone from the Jackson 5.

None of this seems terrible, to be sure. That said, none of it really looks all that good, either. Personally, I'd be perfectly happy just watching Kline and Freeman be classy motherfuckers together for 90 minutes. Sign me up. What I'm not so interested in seeing is this geriatric Hangover riff that robs these great actors of all of their many years of hard-earned dignity and grace.

A fairly common way to write off lousy movies is to declare that the actors "sure look like they had fun making the movie." I don't doubt that it was a blast for these guys to get together and fart around in Vegas for a little while and collect an easy paycheck and a nice desert tan, but to call it anything else would be disingenuous.

That said, your mother will probably LOVE Last Vegas. So there's that.

Also See

The Summit opens Nov. 1 at The Grand Cinema

October 24, 2013 at 6:13pm

Judging by the Trailer: "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"

"Bad Grandpa" will make you uncomfortable in theaters starting Oct. 25.

Look, if you're expecting me to get on my high horse about how the quality of entertainment provided by the Jackass movies and TV show, you will be sorely disappointed. Quite possibly one of the lowest-brow show concepts in the history of media, Jackass succeeded despite itself. In between visceral gags like self-inflicting paper cuts and defecating in Home Depot display toilets, there were genuinely ingenious stunts sprinkled about.

I have a lot of empathy for the Jackass crew. They're essentially professional wrestlers - bodies broken by the age of 40, with little to no transferable skills - so I applaud their attempts at second careers that don't involve injuring themselves, like Steve-O's foray into standup comedy. Unfortunately, Johnny Knoxville's latest stab at non-hospitalization takes the form of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which highlights what were unequivocally the worst segments of Jackass: sub-Candid Camera pranks of social awkwardness, featuring Knoxville in disguise as an elderly man.

In a Borat-esque effort to combine hidden camera hijinks with a scripted story, Bad Grandpa centers around Knoxville's old man character, named Irving Zisman, going on a cross-country adventure with his precocious young grandson. What follows is a series of public goof-em-ups that take what little charm there was in the ultra-low budget escapades of Jackass' past and bulks them up with a bigger budget and less of that old gonzo energy.

The trailer ends with a legitimately troubling scene of the little boy posing as a girl and entering into one of those reprehensible child beauty pageants. While it's clear that the little actor is totally game - and while the scene ends with Knoxville throwing dollar bills at the kid, making it clear that this is meant to be satire what makes those pageants so gross - there's just no getting over seeing a child wearing negligee and crawling around on a stage.

Knowing what we know now about the futures of the Jackass crew, it'd probably be pretty hard to morally advocate ushering in the next generation of young dudes doing dangerous things (though there are undoubtedly those who would want to apply). Though they've aged themselves out of the game, the Jackass guys were always best when they took aim at themselves. Bad Grandpa seems a sad reminder of what happens when Jackass turns its attention outward.

October 16, 2013 at 4:16pm

Judging by the Trailer: "Escape Plan"

Sylvester Stallone and Ahnald Schwarzenegger disrupt a rehearsal of the Black Man Group.

"It was almost too easy," thought aloud the shadowy President of Hollywood, as a gloved hand emerged from behind a leather chair to reach for a rock glass of brandy. No one had ever seen his face, but his influence was felt in all corners of the world.

"Soon," hissed the mysterious figure. "Soon, my master plan will come to fruition. The golden age of '80s and '90s sci-fi action madness will run wild over a placid movie-going public. And, to think, all I had to do was bring two septuagenarian, plastic-faced men out of retirement and force them to star together in a futuristic prison-break vehicle."

Over on the dimly lit wall of the President's office hung a poster embossed with bold lettering, all studded steel and crude red underlines, but what stood out most were two names: Stallone. Schwarzenegger.

Off in the corner, a hairless cat hissed in recoil at the sight of Escape Plan. It is said that animals sense evil more viscerally than humans, and what this cat could see was what no one else would come to realize until it was far too late: in addition to Escape Plan being a return to the kind of dumbshit macho popcorn fare of Stallone and Schwarzenegger's early career, it would also be the thing to bring about the end of days.

"The Expendables triptych and Schwarzenegger's shrug of a comeback with The Last Stand - those were just the beginning," cackled the President of Hollywood. "Wait until the unwashed masses feast their eyes on the story of Breslin, the professional prison-break artist, as portrayed by marble-mouthed Sly Stallone. Wait until they see him enter the high-tech super prison and form a shaky alliance with Schwarzenegger's Rottmayer, and bond over jokes about vegetarians. Watch them gasp at the sight of Vincent D'Onofrio and 50 Cent with whatever they're doing. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!"

The hairless cat vomited in the corner. The evil was just too much.

After another sip of brandy, the President of Hollywood called out to his assistant, "Get me John McTiernan and Walter Hill. The end, it is nigh!"

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