Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace in 3D (February 10)
CASTING DIRECTOR: Have you ever seen Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace?
TALENT: No. Never heard of it. Is that a Cartoon Network show or something?
CASTING DIRECTOR: Really? [Beat ... thinking] OK, you’re hired. Now go watch this DVD of the “movie” (gesturing with his fingers), and figure out how you’re going to voice this. We record first thing in the morning.
You all probably laughed at this spot. And why not? Phantom Menace has been the butt of countless jokes since its release in 1999. Why not pile on? But I didn’t laugh. Not even a little. In fact, I felt a great sense of relief. Because for the first time, the weight and “respectability” of the original (holy) trilogy was removed as the tacky and “on the nose” VO reveals Episode I for what it truly is – an after-school children’s cartoon. It’s sad, really. Why did we all raise our expectations so high? Why did we place all our sci-fi hopes and dreams on a guy who also gave us Howard the Duck? It was because of killer teasers trailers that led us all to believe Episode I was going to be produced with the same severity and gravitas as the beloved films we all grew up with. When in fact the prequels were really intended to be childhood innocence defiling, toy selling, mind-gum for young’uns. So yeah, I’m at peace. Because today, I finally saw the first trailer for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. And you know what? I don’t think I am going to go see it. Even if it is in 3D.
Rembert Browne: This is the equivalent of Kidz Bop releasing a 2012 version of Alanis' Jagged Little Pill, but instead of it being about Full House's Dave Coulier, it's about 15-year old Tavi Gevinson.
The Cold Light of Day (April 6)
Browne: So here's what seems to be happening in this "thriller." A family gets together on a houseboat. The main character (Henry Cavill) goes for a swim and when he comes back, his family is gone. When he looks around, he sees blood. He goes into town and asks for help. The police come to the boat to help, Cavill gets into a fight with a guy, and Henry is saved by his father (Bruce Willis). Henry, confused that his father is around but the rest of his family is missing, questions his father, who proceeds to tell him he's more than simply a "business consultant." Yes, you guessed it, CIA. Sigourney Weaver shows up, demands are made, guns are shot, cars are driven fast, and roofs are jumped off of. After re-watching the first two seasons of 24 in five days, the action and suspense in this film seems laughable. If I think it's bad, I can't wait to see what you think, Silver.
Silver: Even before I earned my merit badge for “Cinematic Geekdom”, movie trailers have been a love of mine. I vividly recall how the “Now In Production” trailer for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade completely overshadowed whatever feature film followed it. I cherish the tease because I like to take the images and dialogue and run through all the different narrative scenarios in my head. So after 30 plus years it’s only natural to develop a critical (and I think honest) prism in which to view previews. Because despite common belief, not every film looks great when seeing it in trailer form.
In a tired and ultimately unsuccessful tonal bait-and-switch, the trailer for The Cold Light of Day utilizes three of the most clichéd tricks in the first :30:
1. The acoustic guitar strums mixed with prolonged symbol hits matched to flash frame cross edits.
2. Loving moments of a family reuniting in an exotic location,.
3. Then the LOST “Dong!” transitioning into a great sense of foreboding and terror
There really isn’t any reason to watch past that point. We’ve not only all seen this trailer 100 times before, we’ve all seen this movie before…and hated it. All the indicators are on display. The Cold Light of Day is one of the penultimate examples of a trailer trying to sell us all a shined up turd.
Red Lights (TBD)
Silver: This trailer makes me mad. It’s got a nice build, does a nice job of showcasing the solid cast, and effectively hints at a textured and eerie story. So why am I mad? Well, I attended a screening of Red Lights at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (another week another #humblebrag) and afterwards quickly labeled the film as one of the worst I’d EVER seen. I was a fan of Rodrigo Cortes’ Buried, and was excited to see what he could do out of the box (literally). And what I experienced was a convoluted and boring wanna-be Sixth Sense. The film is vague when it should be specific, and overly detailed when it should be ambiguous. And contains an ending which I’m still having trouble labeling – I’m currently going with perplexing, pretentious, and cop-out. With such a stellar cast the film is bound to be released, but if I bought and ultimately released this film, I’d do so after a major round of edits and reshoots. Because as it is now, Red Lights is really quite awful.
Browne: But Elizabeth Olsen... I mean, she's... she's just so great. How could she be in such a bad movie? Nothing makes sense, Daniel.
Step Up 4 - Teaser (July 27)
Browne: So here's the thing. When you go 1-for-1, there's a very high chance you'll then go 1-for-2. When you go 2-for-2, there's still a pretty decent chance you'll go 2-for-3. But when you go 3-for-3 with Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets, and Step Up: 3D, YOU WILL GO FOUR-FOR-FOUR with Step Up 4. This movie will be perfect, ignore all of the sass that I assume Silver is about to give you. He's a hater who's still mad he didn't get a part of "Moose" in The Streets.
“I wish I could just break the rules.”
CUT TO: Different local with characters backlit. HOT CHICK walks away, but is suddenly twirled back into HOT GUY’s arms.
“Break the rules.”
With such Mametesque exchanges, how has it been only two years since the last Step Up film?
But I must say, seeing this teaser makes me think how great my life would be if I could live 100% of the time as a low angle lens, gliding through life on Step Up 4’s imaginary Miami Beach. Capturing images of scantily clad beautiful people, flash mobs of wanna-be gangster b-boys, and souped-up vintage cars which both dance and double as hydraulic launching pads. Well, that, or as a camera on a Fast and Furious film. It’s kind of a wash.
Get the Gringo (May 1)
Did you lose this? I came across it and thought of you. I don’t have any interest in it. So let me know either way. Happy to send it your way.
Nope. It’s not ours. We’ve already got Payback. You might want to check with 1990, but I think they may already have Air America.
Browne: There's really nothing I like more than trilogy box sets. With that said, I might hesitate to buy the Passion of the Christ/Apocalypto/Get The Gringo set. I can't put my finger on why, but I might not bring myself to purchase it. I guess there truly is a first time for everything.
The Hunter (April 6)
Browne: When a piece of film involves someone behaving in an overly brave fashion, alone, because they don't trust or expect others to keep up and push their bodies and minds to their outermost limits, I must see it. Willem Dafoe, doing his best Season 2 Jack Bauer impression, is that character, in this film about a mercenary who goes into the Tasmanian wild, looking for a tiger. Seems simple, but the flashes of twists and turns make this film look pretty spectacular. Plus, Dafoe is the man, in that semi-insane way. Silver, what say you?
Silver: It’s nice to see crazy-eyes Willem Dafoe back on screen. I can’t name a guy I’d rather watch slowly delve into madness for 90 minutes. So he seems perfectly suited for his role in The Hunter. Which appears to be an amalgamation of The Edge, Into the Wild, and The Ghost and the Darkness. All films which successfully used the perils and evils of nature as a physical on-screen story device and as a metaphoric obstacle placed upon the lead character(s). This one looks good.
7500 (August 31)
Silver: First off, why can’t all airplanes have as much space as the ones we see in the movies? They’re all so roomy. With hallways, nooks, and enough room for snakes, murderers, and in the case of 7500 aliens/ghosts(?) to hide themselves. But enough about my bi-monthly McDonald’s-fart-infused cross-country travels. Let’s talk about the trailer for Snakes on a Plane, no I mean Red Eye, no, wait, Flightplan, arrrg…7500. A monster movie on a plane, or the cinematic equivalent of a TV bottle episode. Based on the trailer I think we’re supposed to believe that some kind of homicidal spirits are unleashed on these token characters because some douche hipster didn’t turn off his electronics during take off (the TSA loves this film).
When I finally see 7500 when it hits cable, I’ll be looking forward to seeing the inevitable, and hopefully painful death of Entourage’s Turtle (No, I will not call him by his proper name. He’s Turtle).
Side Note: I’d liked to have praised the originality of the paradoxical utilization of the calming acoustic cover of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” if the same tactic hadn’t been so expertly utilized in the extremely effective and creepy trailer for 2009’s remake of Last House on the Left.
Browne: I can't believe this movie is being made. How dare they find a way to actually get me to turn off my electronics before takeoff! What's next, a movie about killer termites that live in my floors and come out every time I forget to turn off my lights before I leave the apartment? A movie about a pet cat that turns into an aluminum death cat every time I refuse to recycle my cans? A movie about a porcelain ax-murderer that hides lives behind my shower curtain and creeps around my house every time I leave the toilet seat up? (I could keep going, literally, forever.)