There are no prime directives on the Hollywood Prospectus podcast — other than, perhaps, Thou Shalt Not Forsake Meek Mill and Thou Shalt Overrate All Bourne Movies — so it wasn't any sort of violation for me and Chris to tear into Star Trek Into Darkness (1:10). Amid crazy spoilers we pointed out troubles far more serious than Tribbles in a movie that was hamstrung by its need to satisfy two fundamentally opposing fan bases: those who love Trek and those who like space movies where stuff blows up. This led to one of our larger, crankier discussions about the state of big movies and how the even bigger profits contained within inevitably lead to smaller ideas and even fewer risks. Happily, taking risks is not a problem for the meth heads at Mad Men (27:38). Some may have found "The Crash" off-putting and strange, but I think we both loved it precisely because it was off-putting and strange. No show on TV has ever been more concerned with the giant abyss of neediness lurking inside everyone, and this was an hour that saw all of our favorite characters inject an insane cocktail of stimulants to try to leap that chasm like Evel Knievel, with similarly smashing results.
J.J. Abrams's second go-round on the Star Trek carousel was the top dog at the box office this weekend, with $70.6 million accrued over the weekend and $84.1 million in the bank since it opened on Wednesday. But that's actually $16 million less than Paramount forecast, the Los Angeles Times reports. Promising signs for the movie include the fact that it has managed an A rating at CinemaScore, and that its international box office is healthier than it was for the first flick: $80.5 million has already been stacked in the exotic climes of not-America. (The Times credits, in part, "Efforts made at the script level more action, less allegory." Which, duh. Everyone knows German people, among many others, hate allegories.) The Hangover Part III and Fast & Furious 6 hit theaters next week, so Star Trek Into Darkness will have some fiercer competition soon enough. And so, when the story of STID’s box office performance is ultimately written, the big question might remain. Would it have made more money if the colon hadn't been inexplicably, bewilderingly left out of the title?
Last week, Steven Soderbergh bemoaned the state of the film industry during a talk at the San Francisco International Film Fest, and this week, the Girls in Hoodies respond to some of his arguments. We use examples from a so-far-underwhelming summer movie season and Baz Luhrmann's upcoming The Great Gatsby 3D as fodder, and probably alienate every fan of Marvel's Avengers mega-franchise in the process.
Summer is always an endurance contest: week after week of Movies You Have to See. Once upon a time the season was four months, like actual summer. But climate change has managed to monkey with the Hollywood release schedule. Now summer starts whenever a studio says it does; last week Universal called summer first. So the season pretty much began in the middle of April, with Oblivion, which delivers Tom Cruise as the last man on Earth. The movie industry is hoping you like the end of the world. It's the source of the season's other endurance contest: seemingly endless months of planetary devastation, alien invasion, and surviving. Armageddon is the new Avengers.
Maybe it's foolish to wonder whether the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the subsequent citywide hunt for the perpetrators wasn't summer movie enough. Maybe this should have been the summer Mark Wahlberg partied with the vulgar teddy bear. We are strong, however. Absentminded, too. So if Brad Pitt wants to race around the globe in the name of stopping a zombie pandemic, we might be helpless not to watch. But there's something going on when even the comedies are horning in on that action. I saw the poster for This Is the End, with the faces of all those funny people — Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, James Franco, Jay Baruchel — and assumed it was about a bunch of man-children graduating from night school or getting drunk at a wedding or something. It might still be about that. But it's also about how a disaster has hit Los Angeles and left them stuck with each other. I'm going to go ahead and predict that Robinson dies first.
I realize that Quvenzhane Wallis is probably pretty busy, but this video just proves that MTV needs to be filling its empty programming slots with The Quvenzhane Dance-Off. You think it's easy to bust a move in a knee-length skirt? It's not. I would also accept Teen Mom Competitive Waltzing, 16 and Dougieing, and The Challenge: Choque.
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.
Silver: Forget the Oscars (Seriously. We should. It’s gotten to the point where the hype in/around awards season is more appealing than the telecast. Which at this point feels more like required DMV orientation-video viewing.) Each year, I look to the Super Bowl to be my cultural shepherd, guiding me toward a transition from the pomp, circumstance, and elevated significance surrounding six minutes of Anne Hathaway singing and Daniel Day-Lewis’s beard to the glut of (mostly) vapid movie theater butter–glazed summer tentpole movies. The overmarketed celluloid morsels crammed down moviegoers' throats by studios, if even remotely entertaining and able to garner a reasonable three-day box office gross, are considered successful. But also on rare occasions they get stamped as genuinely good cinema. So enough talk about Tommy Lee Jones’s scowl let’s start debating which, if any, Marvel Phase 2 characters will be showing up in Iron Man 3, or how Wolverine will play into 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Browne: It's like Party City on my keyboard right now. Let's do this.
You thought you had been adequately enticed by the prospect of J.J. Abrams's Star Trek sequel by its first trailer? You thought wrong! Above: the teaser trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, which provides seconds upon seconds of footage we had not yet seen. The bwaaaangs from Inception are still with us, as is the general air of calamity and doom. But we also get a nice little tour of the Enterprise, somberly folded flags over coffins, an extremely tricky Baumgartner-esque space jump, hellfire, and Captain Pike delivering a heavy voice-over lashing out, vis-à-vis Kirk's humanity-threatening hubris. By the way, if you're here for the heavy nerding, you should know there's still no definitive answer as to which villain Benedict Cumberbatch is playing. As EW's highly helpful deep dive into the question explains, it could be the monolith of Star Trek bad dudes — Khan! It could also be a lesser-known figure from the original series, one with "God-like abilities" — Gary Mitchell! It could also be a proto-electro pop hero — Gary Numan! (It could not be Gary Numan.) Anyway, here it is. Bwaaaang!
Silver: OK, so you’re making your first film. It’s about a legendary recording studio that's hosted such acts as Nirvana, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, and Tom Petty, and which has since fallen into neglect due to the digital age. How in the world do you book interviews and get rights to all the music? Well, it helps if you're former Nirvana drummer, current Foo Fighters front man, and go-to Satan for Tenacious D Dave Grohl. Because booking Trent Reznor, Tom Petty, Lars Ulrich, and Dave Grohl (wow ... how’d he land that one?) is probably easier that way. But the question of the film’s quality still remains; will Grohl be just another renowned musician stepping behind the camera in hopes of earning their renaissance man/raconteur merit badge? I honestly doubt it. He’s hired some key folks from The Cove, Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos, and Dogtown and Z-Boys to help him through his rookie effort. So in the end, I’m guessing Sound City is going to be my 2013 Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap.
Yeah, Inception bwaaaangs could make just about anything seem hella dramatic, but the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness — J.J. Abrams's follow-up to his 2009 smash-hit big-screen reboot of the franchise — provides some pyrotechnics even with the sound off. A villainous Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voice-over and all the plot explanation we need: He was wronged, he's here for vengeance, let's get it popping. And then it's all a giant blur of guns and fire and face-kicks and shrieks and a cliff jump possibly nabbed from leftover Lost footage and dudes running through windows, and then, bwaaaaang, a spaceship crashing to Earth. By the way, the name of the villain that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing hasn't yet been revealed. If they're still sussing that out, I think one good option would be "Benedict Cumberbatch."