Tortuga’s gonna mess you up… with his MACHETE

May 13, 2010

I have no words for this slice of insanity, except to stutter a list of names: De Niro… Lapidus and Ana Lucia and Hurley’s dad (a.k.a. Cheech) from “Lost”… Jessica Alba… Don Johnson… Steven Seagal’s bloated corpse… La Lohan… and Danny fucking Trejo.  In the words of many an internet ‘tard, LOLWUT

Also, Danny Trejo gives good interview.  Here are some choice pull quotes: “So I said, ‘How bad do you want this guy beat up? Shit, for 320 bucks‘”  “I think he was scared of me, so he’d do whatever I told him to do.”  “When you’re using drugs and doing robberies, it’s hard to distinguish whether you’re doing robberies to support your drug habit, or doing drugs to support your robbery habit.”  “So I kick in the door, somebody jumps up, I bash them with the shotgun, and I ask this guy, ‘Oh, you wanna die, huh?’ This lady starts screaming, and I put this gun right in her face. So the director yells, ‘Cut! Cut! God, Danny, where did you study?’ I said, ‘Let me see. Von’s. Safeway. Thrifty Mart.'”  “This guy looks at me, almost starts crying, and says, ‘Hey, I’m trying to stay in character.’ I was, ‘Well, your character’s about to get his ass beat.'”

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Iron Man 2 trailer

December 17, 2009

The Onion AV Club has the hook-up.  Here’s what I think: Mickey Rourke’s costume still looks kind of goofy but damned if he isn’t terrifying anyway.  And having just seen “The Wrestler,” I’m primed to root for the guy.  Scarlett Jo – unsure about her involvement, but there’s no denying that she is the right person to wrap in skin-tight leather and have slinking around.  And the trailer has a promising edge to it, while still retaining the elements that made the first movie a big success – AC/DC?  Check.  Sabbath?  Check.  Downey Jr. being a wiseacre?  Tripe check.

Alright, I’m in.


New trailers for “Wolfman” and “Avatar”

August 20, 2009

How are we feeling about these?  Benicio del Toro gives us furry wolfman action here.  And over here, Apple has the first trailer for James Cameron’s mega-hyped, long-anticipated, titularly-conflicted “Avatar.”

I wasn’t exactly slobbering with impatience for either of these, and after seeing the trailers, I’m still not.  Judge for yourselves though.

Regarding “Avatar,” the internet is resounding with cries of “Looks like a video game!” and “I thought this was supposed to be all realistic and whatnot!”  Cameron had promised a “game changer” and some kind of next-level FX, but… Playstation 3 vs. Playstation original this is not.  Many have rightly pointed out that the effects for Davy Jones (two years ago) and Gollum (EIGHT years ago) were more convincing – not to mention, better-designed.  Apart from the effects, I’m getting a serious FernGully-meets-Dark Crystal feeling from the whole thing, and though I still harbor some affection for the latter, I don’t see how that’s a good vibe for an enormously expensive summer blockbuster that probably needs to clear well over $300 million before it breaks even (the production budget alone, not including predictably huge advertising costs, is rumored to be around $200 million).  Is 3-D the sales pitch on this movie?  If so, Cameron should mail 3-D glasses to the fanboys before posting his next trailer online; in 2-D it’s just not that impressive.

And “The Wolfman”: well, it hardly looks bad, but I was waiting for something to jump out and grab me, maybe sink its teeth into me lycan-style.  Instead I found that del Toro looks a bit out of place with all those Brits and period details, and visually the thing is pretty in exactly the way you’d expect – lots of blue filter for night scenes, lots of sweeping CGI-enhanced sky, and lots of computer effects for the wolf (and they even had access to Rick Baker, who was responsible for the best wolf transformation ever committed to celluloid).  I’m an easy mark for this kind of movie – just don’t have the wolf doing kung fu in bullet time and I’ll probably want to see it – but this trailer makes me think, “Eh… maybe throw it in the Netflix queue.”  Hmm.  Will have to re-evaluate when round 2 comes along.


“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is not a good movie title (and other observations)

January 19, 2009

Diane,

So “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” has a trailer now, and this is it:

And that sound you heard, if you were listening carefully, was a world of fanboys engaging in a three-part harmony of “OMG,” “meh,” and “They’re raping my childhood!  My poor, precious childhood!”

I’ll cast my vote in with the “meh” crowd.  Meh.  I like the mouthfeel on that one.  This trailer looks blandly acceptable, which usually means the movie could also be blandly acceptable or a real piece of crap – such is the science of trailer-making these days.  I’m not enthused about the little hero squad at all.  They’re trying to interpret comic book figures into characters that seem like they could exist in the real world, but this is a dangerous task that should perhaps not be attempted without the assistance of a Nolan or two.  So we get a Gambit that looks like he should be at the final table for the World Series of Poker, and a Sabretooth that looks like Liev Schreiber if he were in “Twilight.”  Hmm.

Another thing I’m not crazy for is the generic “epic” feel they seem to be trying to impart.  Wolvie in long-ago battlefields, swooningly dramatic score… blah.  “Epic” is kind of the opposite of what I want out of a Wolverine movie, which could be stated in this simple formula:

(Claws + people getting clawed) * snikt = awesome movie

There are rumors of extensive reshoots – rumors so persistent that Hugh Jackman took time out of his busy model-fucking schedule to e-mail Ain’t It Cool News directly.  ¿qué?  This is what we call “not a good sign.”

I’m going to let my many Hollywood producer readers in on a little secret, which they can file away and refer to when they make that inevitable Wolverine reboot in 2014.  It is this: we are OK with Hugh Jackman.  All we want out of this movie is violence and limbs getting cut off and huge Wolverine vs. whoever brawls that end with blood-soaked walls.  We want an R rating, because you can’t make a good fight featuring a guy with giant claws and regenerative abilities unless you’re willing to get nasty.  Don’t try to gussy it up and make a typical comic blockbuster; don’t make Wolverine funny or cutesy or emotionally accessible.  The movie should be short, dark, violent, and mean – just like its hero.  And if it is, it will make plenty of cash, believe me.


Calling all contrarians

August 1, 2008

Gather ’round, folks, because your queen has arrived.

Stephanie Zacharek is the most active movie reviewer for Salon.com, and has long been one of my least favorite reviewers working for any publication.  Recently she took a lot of flak over her review of “The Dark Knight” – basically the only part of it she singled out for significant praise was Heath Ledger, with nods to Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal as well.  The rest of the movie she disliked, was bored or confused by, or outright hated.  Well, my opinion differs from hers in most respects, but she’s entitled to be That Guy* – the guy who hates everything that other people like, and sticks up for mediocre underdogs for reasons most inscrutable.  She’s just loyally following in the footsteps of her obvious inspiration, Pauline Kael – though, alas, with significantly less talent, and a lack of Kael’s ability to make us temporarily feel like we might actually share her biases and opinions.

So whatever.  Zacharek sucks, but she can suck all she wants.  That’s what I’m saying.

But this part of her review of the new “Mummy” movie actually made me angry:

In some ways I feel sorry for “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” as an enterprise: Not only is it shoehorned into a forlorn early-August slot, by which point most of us are already suffering summer-blockbuster fatigue; it also has the further misfortune to arrive just a few weeks after the release of “The Dark Knight,” a movie so revolutionary that Orson Welles himself has reportedly risen from his own emperor’s tomb to concede that, you know, that “Citizen Kane” thing he made really wasn’t so great after all.

“The Dark Knight” does make somewhat more visual sense than “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” but both pictures suffer from similar delusions of grandeur, mistaking oversized scale for solid storytelling.

Hey Stephanie: Salon called, and they’re looking for their review of “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”  Could you tear yourself away from “The Dark Knight” for a few seconds and track that down for ’em?  Thanks.

* Even though she’s not literally a guy.


Finding reasons for failure

July 29, 2008

Diane,

Here’s a thing that drives me crazy: the entertainment media’s endless need to find reasons why things fail.  I understand why the industry producing the entertainment does so: they have fragile egos, they don’t want to lose their jobs, they already have a contract for more Brett Ratner movies, etc.  But when and why did this mentality infect every media source that reports on that entertainment?

It’s peculiar enough that the focus of entertainment reporting has shifted heavily toward box office receipts.  We as consumers should care a lot more about quality than popularity or profitability, but somehow Hollywood has sucked us into feeling some sort of investment in their arms race of ridiculous spending.  I know it didn’t, but like to think it did, start with “Titanic” – that the dollar figure attached to that movie (a now-standard $200 million) was so eye-popping that it kicked off a national obsession with budgets and grosses and revenues and other completely un-entertaining words.  Whatever it was, you can’t page through “Variety” or “Entertainment Weekly” (or scan your favorite movie blog) without reading a bunch of bullshit about record opening weekends and percent dropoff from week one to week two.  It’s what you have to put up with while trying to discern whose cakehole to fling your money at all summer long.

The byproduct of this fixation has been that whenever a big money project goes down in flames, there is a post-mortem by anyone remotely qualified (or immediately unqualified) to talk about such things.  This is how we got astute analyses like, “Audiences aren’t ready for female superheroes.  That’s what we learned from ‘Catwoman’ and ‘Elektra’!”- never mind that both of those movies sucked and had laughable trailers, and that one of them was a spinoff from a movie no one really liked, starring a woman from a TV series not that many people watched.  It’s also how we found out that audiences were burned out on sword-and-sandal epics (“Troy,” “Alexander”) – unless of course those epics tickled their salivary glands with lots of slow mo and a redonkulously ubiquitous catchphrase (“300” – just try not to spend all afternoon shouting “This… is… SPARTA!” now).

Here’s a theory: people will watch movies that are entertaining, have good word-of-mouth (because they are entertaining), and are marketed well.  And they will not watch movies that do not achieve these things.  Big second week drop-off?  It’s not because of some obscure demographic reason, it’s because your movie sucks out loud and everyone who has seen it already can’t call enough of their friends to warn them away.  (By the way, Diane: do not see “Hancock.”  It sucks.  Out loud, even.)

But in the spirit of the entertainment media, of which I am now a pseudo-participant, I will offer some theories about why some recent high profile flops crawled out of the pool with red bellies and watery eyes:

~ “Gigli”: America isn’t ready for a sexy Latin lesbian who falls for a lantern-jawed Bostonion.

~ “Poseidon”: the Bible Belt moviegoers reject any movie named after a god who isn’t their God.  This also explains the failure of “Mars Attacks!” and the marginal returns of “Mighty Aphrodite.”

~ “Snakes On A Plane”: there shouldn’t have been so many motherfuckin’ snakes on that plane.  Snakes scare people.  How about one big snake – “Anaconda” did well, right?  Wait, I got it: 50% less snakes, 50% more wisecracking sidekicks.


The artistic crisis of the Fresh Prince, and the remakes continue

July 3, 2008

Diane,

Yep, it’s crucify Will Smith time.  (We love that time almost as much as we love Thursday night spaghetti madness.)

Will Smith has a lot going for him.  He’s charismatic, he can act (“Ali” proved it, if it accomplished little else), he’s not an awful musician, and he’s preternaturally good-looking.  Not only that, but he’s an old-fasioned Entertainer of the most noble kind.  Every time you see Will Smith doing anything, it seems designed to make you at least a little bit happier.  Will Smith pushed “Independence Day” from intolerable hokum to mildly amusing pap, and pushed a sitcom into endless syndication through sheer force of personality (because trust me, nothing else in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was going to do it).  And on top of that, he seems to have an actual artistic inclination.  How else to explain his recent string of movie choices: “Ali,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “I Am Legend,” and now “Hancock”?

The trouble is, the people he’s working with keep missing the mark.  Wildly.

“Hancock” follows in the footsteps of “I Am Legend” by giving us a different Will Smith, a guy digging in and finding a performance other than the semi-iconic one from “Men in Black” that he could profitably repeat for the next 30 years if he wanted.  “I Am Legend” gave us a soulful, mournful Will Smith with almost no jokes and a lot of “last of my kind” angst.  “Hancock” gives us a kind of darkly comedic twist on the same thing; Smith’s Hancock* drinks and possibly snorts coke and causes huge whirlwinds of catastrophe wherever he goes, but he’s also rogueishly charming and gets off a few good wisecracks, like this one:

Random woman at the scene of a Hancock-caused train wreck: You smell like liquor!

Hancock: Bitch, I’ve been drinking!

It’s so anti-clever that it’s almost clever.  And Smith delivers the line with exactly the right go-fuck-yourself insouciance. 

But just like “I Am Legend,” “Hancock” lets Smith down.  It takes a bold creative choice – a demythologizing approach to the hero pic that we might have been comparing to what “Unforgiven” did to the Western, or what Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight” did to, er, heroes – and swiftly discards it in favor of what the creative team clearly saw as a crowd-pleasing, blockbuster ending.  The second half is nothing but convoluted backstory mixed with bad plotting and the sacrifice of everything interesting about the main character.  By the time Hancock is predictably surviving the attack that should have killed him and (sort of) sacrificing himself to save the woman he (sort of) loves, the surly drunk of the opening scenes is long gone – and it turns out he took everything interesting about the movie with him.  It reminds me of the disappointment I felt when “I Am Legend” funneled into a predictable action/horror showdown at the end, except that lasted just a few minutes; “Hancock” goes off the rails halfway through.

What Smith needs is to follow his instincts the rest of the way.  He’s clearly drawn to interesting material and potentially career-altering concepts, and doesn’t want to keep recycling the lighter-than-air parts that made him such a bankable movie star.  But he also just as clearly is working with people that don’t share his goals, and that want to ensure that their $100 million investments are recouped with interest at the box office.  The solution?  Dump the star salary, dump the grossly over-sized budgets and nail-chewing producers (“Do we put Hancock on a McDonald’s cup, or Burger King?  Which one plays better?”), and team up with a true maverick.  How about an “I Am Legend” made for half the budget, with no CGI, and directed by George Romero?  How about a “Hancock” that follows through on its darkest instincts and doesn’t track the theme from “Sanford & Son” over a scene of Hancock literally shoving someone’s head up someone else’s ass**?  Or how about Will Smith in a Werner Herzog or PT Anderson movie? 

He’s standing on the threshold of something interesting.  Let’s give him a push one way or the other.  ‘Cause right now, he’s just blocking the door.

In other news… the trailer for “The Day The Earth Stood Still” (the remake starring Keanu Reeves) played in front of “Hancock” last night.  I’d like to ask the producers of this movie a question, and here it is: why “The Day The Earth Stood Still”?  I would have gone with “Star Wars” or “Aliens” or maybe “Caddyshack.”  Really you could have chosen almost any title, and there would have been just as much resemblance between this movie and the one it is allegedly remaking.

Unless the next trailer for this movie includes a giant fuckin’ robot named Gort, count me out.

Gort mad! Why Gort not in new movie?!?

Strangely, the remake virus has also infected Werner Herzog, of all people.  But in his predictably unpredictable fashion, he’s decided to remake – get this – “Bad Lieutenant.”  (wha?)  With Nicholas Cage and Val Kilmer.  Which means this will either be the best or the worst movie ever made.  So thumbs up, Werner!

* Not a penis joke.

** Really.  P.S. Sorry for the many, many spoilers in this post, but if I have discouraged you from seeing this movie, I feel I’ve done my job.