Kick-Ass 2 — Red Band (August 16)
Silver: What I loved about the first Kick-Ass (and I did loooove the first Kick-Ass) was that despite its cheeky tone and comic-book sheen, the film never shied away from depicting how deeply disturbed each of its characters were. These were mortal humans, who felt pain, bled, and suffered broken bones, but because of their warped sense of justice, they had an unsettling predilection for violence and killing. And yet, despite all its mayhem, the film still felt quaint, comical, and focused. Positioning-wise, it was a tough road to travel down, yet writer-director Matthew Vaughn pulled it off. (I might be a little biased; of all the directors working in the studio system, I believe Vaughn is one of the best. Layer Cake is one of my top five favorite films of all time; his X-Men: First Class was a ton of fun and is immensely rewatchable; and Stardust is an underrated modern-cinema fairy tale — the love child of an uglier The Princess Bride and The NeverEnding Story.)
Vaughn moves into the producer role for Kick-Ass’s sequel, handing over the steering wheel to Jeff Wadlow. (Who?) You know, the guy who directed Never Back Down? (Huh?) You know, that Cam Gigandet underground high school fighting movie? (Blank stare.) Still nothing? Oh well.
The scope of the film looks larger, yet the production value appears cheaper. And it seems Wadlow's cinematographer, Tim Maurice-Jones, brought a bunch of his own lighting equipment with him, because Vaughn’s dark, gloomy imagery has been replaced with bright, crisp, stark daylight set visuals. He also looks to be supplying the original film's badass, dry-as-the-salt-flats humor with more of an on-the-nose quality. As a result, the jokes are not landing quite the same in this film as they did in the first one.
But this is enough of a glimpse for we Kick-Ass fans — wait, let me specify, we Kick-Ass movie fans (I have not read Mark Millar’s graphic novels) — to remain optimistic. Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl looks to be taking on a larger role, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s Red Mist, now “The Mother Fucker,” plays as awkward and douchey as ever. (Side note: Is having three names a prerequisite for all leads in a Kick-Ass? Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse?)
But what excites me most is Jim Carrey’s Colonel Stars and Stripes. The best Jim Carrey roles also contained a seed of darkness (Ace Ventura, Fletcher Reede, Charlie Baileygates, Truman Burbank, Lloyd Christmas, Andy Kaufman, The Riddler, Joel Barish, and of course the Cable Guy). And, at least for me, Carrey is least desirable when he either dismisses the darkness entirely (Bruce Almighty, Mr. Popper’s Penguins) or fully embraces it (The Number 23). On the surface, Colonel Stars and Stripes looks to be the first role in a while that will strike that perfect Carrey balance.
Browne: Wow. That was awesome. I should probably see the first Kick-Ass. Like, today.
The Bling Ring (June 14 in limited release)
Silver: With today’s limited release of Spring Breakers (the film goes wide next week) and this trailer, I’m assuming films with mainstream ambitions that are written and directed by once-indie auteurs (Harmony Korine, Sofia Coppola) and are about defiant, attention-starved, criminally predisposed teens/twentysomethings are now a “thing.” Also, it appears that when cutting a trailer for a film of this burgeoning subgenre, it’s now imperative to select a metronomic track booming with so much bass and drums you wouldn’t be surprised to hear it played by the marching band from Drumline.
I understand that it’s not fair to pigeonhole a director, but I’m a little taken aback that this is a Sofia Coppola film. Yet my bewilderment also gives me reassurance, because regardless of how this film's trailer positions it, it IS STILL a Sofia Coppola film, starring the talented Hermione Granger (a.k.a. Emma Watson). And I do dig them both. So I’m more than willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt.
Browne: Both the first trailer we watched, Kick-Ass 2, and this trailer use songs from Sleigh Bells' incredible album Treats. Both examples greatly improved the drama of the film, with The Bling Ring being the best example of the two because (1) "Crown on the Ground" is just a better song, and (2) it lasted for the entire trailer.
It's a perfect match for the snobby, angst-filled teenage scenes we see in the quick glimpse. Once Spring Breakers has come and gone, I will begin to care about this a great deal.
To the Wonder (April 12)
Silver: Terrence Malick made two films, let me repeat, TWO films before 1998’s The Thin Red Line.
And I vividly remember the two primary talking points that arose around the release of The Thin Red Line (I’m obviously paraphrasing): “It’s the return of the reclusive genius” and “This could be a disaster.” Somehow, since then, these two sentiments have become the standard buzz surrounding his new films. What’s more, if you count The Thin Red Line, Malick has directed more films in his ARG (After Reclusive Genius) period. The clear stylistic and structural difference between the two BRG films (Before Reclusive Genius; 1973’s Badlands and 1978’s Days of Heaven) and his subsequent films (The Thin Red Line, The New World, and The Tree of Life) provides us a clear sense of the kind of director he is today.
And although it may lead to my Cahiérs du Cinema subscription being canceled, I’m going to say that today Malick is a formulaic caricature upon whom hoity-toity cinephiles loft praise and significant monikers instead of the criticism he deserves for his self-indulgent, meandering, monotonous films.
You want to make a Terrence Malick film, or just cut a trailer for what could be mistaken as a Terrence Malick film? Identify an über-simple conceit — interpersonal connection, family dynamics, humanity’s desire to conquer and destroy — then get a nice camera, write a bunch of long-winded, vague, platitude-filled voice-overs about your core theme. Get a few actors to read your words and walk around in empty spaces (preferably fields) and dark, back-lit hallways. Gather random b-roll shots of animals, water, the stars, hands, and grass. Then completely cut out a few of the performers you hired, entirely change the conceit and themes, and shoehorn the materials you have banked into a totally different piece. And then, voilà, you’re Terrence Malick!
(OK, I’m ready. Bring on the backlash.)
Browne: Wait, I thought this was just absolutely beautiful. Am I crazy for that, or are you just a salty, jaded man, Daniel Silver? Just one nitpick about this trailer: While the music was gorgeous, this drama could have used a bit more Sleigh Bells.
Scary Movie 5 (April 12)
Silver: Dear Malcolm D. Lee,
The Best Man is one of those sadly forgotten films from the late '90s, and the rest of your filmography is full of clever, heartfelt work (yes, including Undercover Brother; that’s a f-u-n-n-y movie). How do you sign on to direct this? How? I must know.
Your confused fan
And now my review of this trailer (and, I’m assuming, film): No. Nope. Never. Ever. NEVER EVER.
Browne: I think about The Best Man every morning. Know that. As for this film, of course not. A fun project would be watching all of the Scary Movie films and keeping track of how many laughs you have during each movie, and then graph the very sad, rapidly plummeting line.
Actually, that sounds horrible. Because it involves watching them. No cause is worthy of that, not even science.
Star Trek Into Darkness — Teaser B (May 17)
Silver: After a plethora of Cumberbatch-laden, ominous, Dark Knight–y looks, this otherwise generic, balls-to-the-wall, Enterprise crew–centric trailer is a welcome reminder that Star Trek Into Darkness will be the can’t-miss, surefire thrill ride of the summer (#pullquote). Just tell me when I can purchase my IMAX tickets.
Browne: I'm not as sold on this as you, Daniel, but my rule with this type of movie is "must be better than Battleship." A lot of movies aren't. I think this one might have some "better than Battleship" qualities up its sleeve.
Generation Um ... (May 28)
Silver: I like Keanu, always have. He’s made some great films, and he seems like a good dude. But the way he's presented himself over the years, his mannerisms, and his cadence make him so easy to make fun of. So it’s completely out of love when I say, “This is what happens when the filmmakers let their star title their film.” I love you, Keanu. Sorry, buddy.
Browne: I bet Keanu thinks that title is "killer." The thing is, it's not. It made me not want to see the film before I watched the trailer. And then I watched the trailer. Still don't want to see it. Why not just go the obvious route and name it Keanu Reeves Presents: Keanu Interviews All the People He's Slept With — Based on a True Keanu Reeves Story.
Penthouse North (TBD)
Silver: Penthouse North appears to be a half-baked attempt to appropriate the essential design of, but not exactly remake, Terence Young’s classic Wait Until Dark. Not to knock Michelle Monaghan, but she’s no Audrey Hepburn; that said, Penthouse North does have its equivalent of Dark’s Alan Arkin in Michael Keaton. So it’s a little baffling that the marketers of this film would hold back their ace in the hole for more than a minute. The only way folks are going to be interested in this interminably delayed awful idea for a film is for them to see as much crazy-eyed Keaton as possible.
Browne: Now THIS is a film I have to create a drinking game for. Most obvious rule: Every time Michael Keaton's on-screen presence reminds you that he's a national treasure, smash a bottle of Fernet over your own head.
The Lone Ranger — Japanese Trailer (July 3)
Silver: When presented like this, The Lone Ranger feels like a warped Japanese take on the American Western. And I LOVE IT. Everything I once mocked or had hesitations about feels suddenly awesome. It’s as if Stephen Chow hired the cast of Sweeney Todd and The Social Network and decided to make a samurai Western. (I know Stephen Chow is from Hong Kong and not Japan. I’m merely using his filmmaking sensibilities as an example.) I would love nothing more than to see this film released exactly like this.