It’s “Let’s remake an eighties movie!” week in Hollywood, with spiffy new versions of both Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night hitting theaters on Friday. Capitalizing on the trend is the latest trailer for Footloose 2.0. The basics of the original have been faithfully carried over, only this time Ren McCormack — the juvenile delinquent challenging a conservative small town’s oppressive, delightfully bizarre no-dancing rule — is from Boston, not Chicago (“What do people do hea-ahh?,” new Ren inquires). Also, in this version, McCormack is not played by Kevin Bacon (who, at press time, was 53 years old) but relative newcomer Kenny Wormald, a professional dancer whose biggest role to date was in the Center Stage sequel you were previously not aware existed. And this is, somewhat oddly, directed by Craig Brewer, the man behind Hustle & Flow, though you probably shouldn't get your hopes up that the updated warehouse scene will now be soundtracked by Three 6 Mafia’s “Where da Killaz Hang.”
There are two ways to approach the trailer for Twixt, Francis Ford Coppola’s Comic-Con-baiting, self-financed descent into indie-horror insanity. One is through rose-colored glasses, telling yourself repeatedly that this tale of a bloated, ponytailed Val Kilmer as a hack horror writer investigating a small-town murder with the help of Elle Fanning as a My Chemical Romance fan and Bruce Dern as a HoneyBaked ham isn’t a note-for-ridiculous-note mash-up of Barton Fink and this trailer for a video game made in 1998.
There are plenty of big faces in the just released trailer for Tower Heist: Ben Stiller, Alan Alda, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, a spicily accented Gabourey Sidibe and an apparently invested, Axel Foley-ish, Eddie Murphy. But the quality of the film will actually be determined by some smaller names hidden near the end of the thing: Brett Ratner and Ted Griffin. Ratner, the director, is a hack’s hack, the self-promoting fauxteur responsible for the worst X-Men movie, the worst Hannibal Lecter film, and all three Rush Hours. Griffin, on the other hand, is the diamond-sharp writer of Ocean’s Eleven and the late, lamented FX series Terriers, who apparently contributed enough words to Tower Heist to at least get his name on the poster. (The list of ghostwriters suspected to have left their pawprints on the script, including Noah Baumbach [!], is depressingly long — and Googleable.) While the pairing of straight-laced, short-fused Stiller with the re-adrenelized Murphy — and their attempts to steal back their $20 million dollars from Alda’s larcenous, high-living Bernie Madoff stand-in — is noteworthy, the more interesting collision is the one that went on behind the scenes. The zippily paced, standard-issue heist scenes — getting the gang together, making sure the gang has ski masks instead of the “much warmer” ski hats — suggest Griffin, but Sidibe’s lock-breaking pillow-talk with Murphy is pure Ratner. Come November, we’ll know for sure whether the film shoots for the penthouse or stumbles into the subcellar.
Suits! Ties! Philip Seymour Hoffman! One can practically smell the autumn crispness in the just-released trailer for The Ides of March, the sort of serious-minded film studios release in the fall with hopes of winning Oscars the following winter. Still, as far as pedigreed political parables go, this one appears to be a doozy. Adapted from Beau Willimon’s well-regarded play Farragut North by handsome prankster George Clooney, the film concerns backroom shenanigans set in a fictionalized version of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. Marisa Tomei lectures, Evan Rachel Wood flirts, and Paul Giamatti does his best Toby Ziegler but the star in all senses is the resurgent Ryan Gosling, who appears charismatically conflicted as Dean/Clooney’s trusted adviser-turned-traitorous mole. While the trailer gives away a boatload of plot points, it does manage to keep under wraps our most anticipated scene: the inevitable moment when the normally debonair and understated Clooney is forced to uncork a ferocious, campaign-killing primal yawp.
Like a cool breeze blowing through a stultifying summer of sequels comes the first extended look at Drive, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s hard-bitten ode to pulpy Americana. And whether it’s the unrelenting heat or the paranoiac visions of a gigantic blue monster staring down at us, we’re going all-in with this trailer. Hell, to our 3-D-scarred eyes these 146 seconds seem like the best film released so far in 2011! It’s basically got it all: Ryan Gosling, finally taking full advantage of his charismatic cocktail of rough-edged good looks and character-actor kook, Carey Mulligan playing someone tougher than Shia LaBeouf’s girlfriend, Christina Hendricks perfectly cast as a gangster’s moll, Albert Brooks surprisingly cast as a vicious criminal, Christina Hendricks oh did we already mention her? Plus, the picture appears to be a near-perfect blend of genre gas (He’s driving backwards! He’s threatening to hammer a bullet into someone’s skull!), and art-house design (a wordless montage of straight-razors and flying fenders set to a soaring orchestral score!). It’s a blessed reminder that the silly season will eventually come to an end, that cinematic pleasure can be experienced without guilt or Ryan Reynolds. Slick, sexy, and smart, Drive makes all the other cars on the road look like wiener-mobiles.
This fall, MTV resurrects Beavis & Butt-head, the dominant delinquents of the nineties, that faraway decade. And (Mike) Judge-ing from the preview clip debuted at Comic-Con yesterday, the boys are in fine form: screwing action figures to Beavis’s hand, resurrecting Cornholio (thanks to some liberal dosages of pain meds), and inadvertently inspiring a Costco-clogging cult to believe the Metallica-shirted lunatic muttering about “TP” is their reborn messiah. But the best part, as always, is the slyly stupid social commentary — in the new clip the TV is showing Jersey Shore instead of videos which makes perfect sense considering that’s the same route MTV has taken in the 14 years since B&B have picked up a remote.
When Marc Webb was announced as the director of The Amazing Spider-Man, the long overdue reboot of a franchise left sadly rudderless since the first year of the Obama campaign, certain assumptions were made. That Webb just might have the perfect kicky-cool visual style — not to mention last name — to reinvigorate the most pop of popular superheroes. That a greater emphasis would be placed on the story’s sweet-natured romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, his doomed (in the comics at least) blonde love. That even if Spidey didn’t tussle with the Vulture he at least might dance with him to some early-eighties Yacht Rock in a totally non-ironic way.
Stark black and white images. Solemn voiceovers detailing the nature of man, the importance of heroes. English actors undertaking interesting accents. A lurking, unspeakable evil. It’s the end of a story — and the potential end of countless lives.
If you think we’re referring to the newly released teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises: congratulations! You’re right! Give yourself a gold star. (Heck, give yourself a Golden Globe!) But we could just as easily be talking about another somber blockbuster from the early nineties. No, not Batman Returns. We’re talking about Schindler’s List.
Sometimes Hollywood gives us something we didn’t even know we wanted. And sometimes it gives it to us twice. Case in point: Until 2011 we hadn’t realized there was a demand for high-concept (and higher-budget) family-friendly movies about troubled kids who become bizarrely attached to talented, surrogate-parent robots. But, well, here we are! Today, auteur Martin Scorsese gave us our first peek at Hugo, a mannered and precious 3-D adventure in which a fresh-faced imp connects with his deceased father via a mechanized automaton that he accesses with a heart-shaped key. The automaton’s secret skill? Drawing! This, of course, made us think immediately of the upcoming Real Steel, fauxteur Shawn Levy’s tale of a fresh-faced scamp who connects with his estranged father via a clanky robot discovered after he steals some car keys. The robot’s killer app? Boxing!
It's hard not to admire the way Hollywood played this, divvying up a single, unified theme into such perfect demographic slices. While Real Steel swings for the cheap seats (smiley Hugh Jackman does an American accent, inevitable images of metal men getting hit in the crotch), Hugo skews highbrow (prickly Jude Law maintains his plummy primary school tone, while Sacha Baron Cohen — as the antagonist — finds his crotch pelted by nothing more serious than a layer cake). Truly, this is niche marketing at its finest. Whether your tastes run more towards the New Yorker or the New Frontiersman, rest assured: There is a robot-befriending kids' movie for you!
Put off by Gwyneth Paltrow’s trademark entitled breeziness? Her casually smug musings about the rigors of raising her rockstar children in an English mansion? Her sudden singing career? Her GOOP? Has Steven Soderbergh got a movie for you!
While George C. Scott might beg to differ, the trailer for Jack and Jill, Adam Sandler’s latest high-concept excuse for him to hang out with his buddies farce has confirmed what we’ve long suspected: Comic cross-dressing is back, baby! Sure, none of the other contenders appear to reach the awesomeful heights (or lows) of Sandler’s Linda Richman: The Movie, but they certainly suggest a transv— er, trend.
Today arrives the first full-length trailer for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s lovingly motion-captured adaptation of a beloved Belgian comic. Our reaction? Creepy! (The reaction in Belgium? However you say “creepy” in French and/or Flemish!) For some bullheaded reason, Spielberg and Jackson have doubled-down on the Uncanny Valley-residing mo-cap technology that has transformed true believer Robert Zemeckis from an Oscar-winning auteur to a studio-killing crank. Sure, the visuals are superficially impressive, rich with classic Spielbergian action, and the cast impresses: Jamie Bell’s voice strikes the right note of boyish curiosity as Tintin, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bumble serviceably as doltish duo Thomson and Thompson, and green-screen Hall of Famer Andy Serkis supplies a nicely sozzled Captain Haddock. But, mijn god, the look of this thing!
A boy avenging his murdered family. Bullet-time violence. A self-referential aside. A woman, preferably with breasts. That penultimate moment when something nuts happens to the sound of the “crescendoing strings” setting on a disused Yamaha.
If you think we’ve just described every action movie and/or videogame trailer released between 2005-2011, you’re (mostly) right! But specifically we’re talking about the remake of Conan the Barbarian starring Lisa Bonet’s baby-daddy, Jason Momoa. Momoa, a genial former model from Hawaii, is perhaps best known these days for playing Khal Drogo, a rapey horse-lord on HBO’s Game of Thrones. And, honestly, director Marcus Nispel’s brutal vision of Cimmeria doesn’t seem so far removed from Dothraki, save for English being spoken and the kitchen 86-ing the horse heart. (It does, however, seem quite different than the glossy submarine Nispel stuck the Fugees in 15 years ago.) There are some visual wows — Momoa fights digital snakes! Momoa fights a sand-person! Momoa has to share the screen with noted scenery chewers Stephen Lang, Rose McGowan, and Ron Perlman! But mostly it seems like more of the slashing, savage same. Our advice? If you see one movie this summer about a wronged guy with a temper and a funny name, make it this one.
John Le Carré’s brilliant espionage novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is both incredibly English and utterly seventies. So when word spread that a big-budget, big-screen adaptation was coming in 2011, fretting fans had reason to fiddle with their PG Tips. Would the story be updated? Would catchphrases be inserted? Would Hollywood meddle with the casting? Could Taylor Lautner really pull of the accent? They needn’t have worried. After one viewing of the trailer for Swedish director Tomas Alfredson’s film, it’s impossible to imagine anything in the world that could possibly be more English or seventies — or awesome. With Gary Oldman in control as the unexpectedly heroic George Smiley — and a killer supporting cast including Ciaran Hinds, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, and Green Lantern fallout victim Mark Strong — the deck was pretty well stacked from the start. But one can practically smell the rain, the greasy curry takeaways, and the (no doubt well-enunciated) flopsweat in Alfredson’s ugly brown-suit-bedecked images. Here, it would appear, is the spy movie we’ve been waiting for: with a real enemy (the Russkies!), real style, and real reel-to-reel tape recorders. Come September, we’ll be the first into the theater, warm beer in hand, ready to sit back in the comfy stadium seating and think of England.