Saturday, January 08, 2005


Trailers seen before Million Dollar Baby and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (both of which I will write about later):

Assault on Precinct 13: Already seen this preview on TV, and it doesn't look any better on the big screen. I don't see any need whatsoever to have remade this John Carpenter film, except for, oh yeah, the total bankruptcy of imagination in Hollywood. There was a time when I would've said Sir Laurence Fishburne deserved to appear in better productions than this B-level crap, but then he exhausted all my goodwill with those two shitty, shitty Matrix sequels. The whole rest of his career should be atonement for them.

Be Cool: "From the director of The Italian Job," this trailer proudly proclaims. That would be F. Gary Gray, distinguished helmer of Set It Off and A Man Apart. I'd be a little more judicious about making that boast if I were you. Seriously, how does a hack like that get control of a (seemingly) high quality, high profile project like this? I'm willing to cut a minor amount of slack to this film because it's Elmore Leonard, it's reuniting John Travolta and Uma Thurman, and the trailer makes it look pretty damn funny. Yes, the ultimate trailer cynic has been suckered in by this trailer. I will admit my error, should I need to after seeing the movie.

Chicken Little: I think this is Disney's first non-Pixar computer animated film, and frankly, it shows the lack of Pixar's magic. Now, I'm a lifelong Disney fan, but this looks weak. Even the least of Disney's animated features (like Home on the Range) are somewhat worthwhile, but if, after seeing this trailer, the Disney board members aren't kicking themselves -- and Eisner -- for ending their relationship with Pixar, then they are seriously deluded.

Constantine: As a comics fan, I've been trying to distance myself from the comic book origins of this thing (i.e., not bitch about Constantine being a dopey dark-haired Yank, rather than Sting, twenty years ago), to see if I can appreciate its merits without fanboy baggage. But no matter how you look at it, this is going to suck about eighteen different kinds of ass. It's a CGI-fest with no redeeming qualities. The first must-miss of the new year!

Dark Water: As a horror fan, I'm somewhat contemptuous of the glut of PG-13 horror movies over the past few years. For every one that actually achieves a successful degree of scariness without the leeway an R rating grants, like The Sixth Sense or The Ring, there are about eighty films that have no reason to exist: hog-tied into wimpiness by the PG-13 due to the desire to reach an audience an R rating would prevent. I love Jennifer Connelly a truly unhealthy amount, and John C. Reilly, Tim Roth, and Pete Postlethwaite are all excellent, but I think, judging from the overwhelming mediocrity of this trailer, and after the unbridled idiocy of The Grudge, a moratorium needs to be called on American remakes of Japanese horror films, ASAP.

Hitch: I will be honest: I wanted to dislike this trailer. I saw the sitcom level banality of the story, I saw Will Smith, and I wanted instantly to dismiss it as crap. But then I saw Kevin James, and you know what? It started looking really amusing. Will Smith is an incredible comedic actor, when he puts some effort into it, and I like James a great deal, too... this movie may have something to it. I probably will not be rushing out to see it on opening night, but if I've got a hankering for a movie and nothing else is playing, I'd pay theater prices for it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: As thrilled as I am, as a fan, to see this coming to the big screen, I have to say this trailer, even considering that it's only a very brief teaser trailer, is a tremendous failure. Sure, the fans in the audience (like me) got a kick out of it, but you know what? We're nerds. We're great big fucking nerds. And this trailer has to be pre-selling the film to the vast amount of non-nerds in the audience. Now, we nerds (and let's face it, if you're reading this, you're about 99.5% likely to be a nerd*) tend to assume that what's common knowledge to us is at least marginally familiar to the non-nerd population. But, as Mike recently realized, that simply is not the case. This trailer not only fails to sell the movie to the majority of America that has never heard of the book, it even fails to convey that it's meant to be humorous. Earth blows up, and the words "Don't Panic" appear, and that's almost kind of sorta funny to a newbie, but the rest of the trailer plays this dramatic, serious music, with cool but completely meaningless images of the Guide, and basically implies the film will be some kind of action thriller. "42" appears in the stars? Great, nice bone to throw to the fans. But there is nothing here to attract a non-fan. In fact, the image of the Earth exploding is more likely to alienate than intrigue: "Oh, my, what poor taste! There's enough terrorism and natural disasters in the world already, without this... this movie blowing up the Earth for no reason! I never! Et cetera!"

Millions: Blank Check, but British.

The Weather Man: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis (one of my favorite actresses), and directed by Gore Verbinski, who's had two big winners in a row with The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean. And yet it just doesn't appeal to me. It comes off as too aggressively quirky. This looks like a movie that will step on your windpipe and bear down until you swear that you are uplifted by its offbeat humanism. Pass. I've already got whatever Spielberg does next for that.

*And please try not to kick up a fuss about the word "nerd." That's like a Trekkie demanding to be called a "Trekker." Own up to it! Embrace it! I have, and the freedom is exhilarating!

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