The first trailer for Oblivion, Tom Cruise's upcoming foray into sci-fi with Tron director Joseph Kosinksi, was released last night. Here are some initial thoughts upon repeated viewing:
1. Tom Cruise is never less convincing than when involved with sports. "The last Super Bowl was played right here classic game. They call them 'games.' Right? Not matches? Anyway, nameless quarterback throws a prayer pass. Touchdowns!" See also: His awkward free throw at 1:23, his total inability to toss a baseball to his son in War of the Worlds. (And he's still rocking the same Yankees hat. Of course he pretends to like the Yankees. Sigh.)
[Note: This trailer is red-band, so might be NSFW.]
So here it is. Our first look at the Evil Dead remake that many thought was entirely unnecessary and some were even dreading. But now, after a glimpse at this terrifying trailer, we're eagerly anticipating the time when it can eat our souls. We Deadites crave any return to Sam Raimi’s cabin in the woods, but were hesitant (at best) when it was announced that a remake of the 1981 original was headed into production. Yes, the original’s principals — writer/director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert, and star Bruce Campbell — were involved, and regardless of their consistent reassurances, fans (and I certainly was one of them) feared the film was going to be a quick money grab, and just the latest in a long line of sub-par and forgettable remakes.
Silver: I make no secret of my steadfast and wholehearted love for Sam Raimi. I’ll get his back when needed ("Spider-Man 3 was not his fault. It’s one of the clearest examples of studio meddling"), apologize for him (“But you have to admit the baseball scenes in For the Love of the Game were pretty great. You could totally tell he was a real baseball fan”), justify his shortcomings (“The Quick and the Dead is underrated. And just look at that cast — Stone, DiCaprio, Crowe, Sinise, and Hackman — the guy’s got an eye for casting”), and fully embrace his flaws (“Yeah, I just bought a bootleg copy of Crimewave on eBay. That movie rocks!”). So I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably not going to be able to provide the most unbiased critique of his latest film, Oz: The Great and Powerful.
The first trailer for Django Unchained doesn't officially premiere until tonight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, but it popped up online this morning, and it keeps popping up, despite the best efforts of the Weinstein Company. So let's jump to conclusions: It looks like Tarantino's finally made the pure blaxploitation film that Jackie Brown suggested he might have in him. Specifically, Django — starring Jamie Foxx as a freed slave on what the movie advertisements refer to as a roaring rampage of revenge, Christoph Waltz as his bounty-hunting ally, and Leonardo DiCaprio as, I don't know, Arliss Loveless from Wild Wild West, maybe? — looks like a Quentified take on '70s blaxploitation Westerns, and specifically the sub-sub-subcategory of slave-revolt revenge flicks like The Legend of N***er Charley, and maybe a little bit like Richard Fleischer's insane 1975 plantation drama Mandingo, which Tarantino has raved about as the last "full-on, gigantic, big-budget exploitation movie" released by a major studio until Showgirls.
Silver: For as good as the Bourne films are, they inexplicably always seem to get lost in the shuffle of summer movie marketing. So I was treating The Bourne Legacy just like I did the previous three, as a film that was just going to magically appear to be the perfect late-summer, high-quality digestif after a long summer of gorging on sugary and fatty cinematic fair.
Until now. I just circled August 3 on my calendar in red marker.
We've been monitoring the progress of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Huntervery closely over the last few months, as it seems to be the one option on the cinematic calendar that will provide us with an opportunity to watch a Mount Rushmore president murder the undead with a traditional lumberjacking implement. (Well, at least until someone greenlights Seth Grahame-Smith's pitch about how founding vigilante fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington secretly used to team up to dispatch zombies with a two-man crosscut saw.) So it was a great relief to reach the Red Band Trailer phase of AL:VH's pre-release hype schedule and finally have our Pavlovian gore responses triggered by the release of much more graphically violent vampire-evisceration footage. The new material doesn't disappoint: Yup, Honest Abe definitely hacks the ever-unliving shit out of some fang-faced bastards in this thing. We're glad we can stop worrying about that now.
Dan Silver: As a kid I bought more Spider-Man comics than those of any other superhero. I attended the midnight screenings for both Spider-Man 1 and 2, and yet, outside of some lingering loyalty to the character and minor curiosity as to why this series needed another reboot, I have minimal interest in seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. The slew of previously released teasers and trailers have been inconsistent in their agenda — here’s a dark and brooding one, here’s a teen angsty one, here’s a playful one — and this latest installment does little to excite, clarify, justify, or dissuade any doubt about the film. For me, this 2:35 played like an old toy ad from the '80s. But instead of toys and kids, this trailer serves us video game-looking CGI action and glimpses of Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Sally Field, and Denis Leary. If the goal was to reinvigorate the Spider-Man franchise, why couldn’t/didn’t Marvel opt to place him in The Avengers? Tease audiences with some kick-ass web-slinger action, and leave them wanting more, then hit them with the stand-alone film (or unnecessary reboot)? This strategy seems to be working for the Hulk. (Note: I know Marvel wasn’t the only one at fault here. Sony has as much to do with this film as any party involved.)
Dan Silver: Is there an end-of-the-year award for Best Tagline to a film? If there is, I’d like to nominate the one from Bad Ass — “He’s Mean. He’s Angry. He’s Old.” Forget the underwhelming Machete, this appears to be the film the real-life badass, Danny Trejo, was born to make. What’s more, the film is a fictionalized account of actual events. There’s no keeping me away from this movie.
Rembert Browne: There is something extremely intriguing about a film starring three 60-somethings. It's sort of like It's Complicated but violent, not funny, not sexy in the slightest, and unless I missed something in the trailer, not about a love triangle. How sweet would it be if it were, though? You can't tell me a film about Danny Trejo and Charles S. Dutton fighting for the attention of Hellboy wouldn't be an instant classic. Easy Oscar.
For those who don't know, Prometheus is a new sci-fi thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Since it first went into development, the film has been touted as Scott's return to "the genre he redefined" with films like Blade Runner and Alien. (That would be, well, Sci-Fi). The film has also been rumored to be a prequel to Scott's own Alien film. Up to this point, fans have been given very little a few leaked photos, some official photos, a poster, and lots and lots of speaking through the media (by Scott, the writer Damon Lindelof, and Fox studios).
And now, with the release of the teaser trailer, we finally get a glimpse of the actual film.
Silver: I’m a little disappointed in Jason Segel. He should know better than to reveal the age-old secret of “The Jewish Drawer". Every Jewish boy has one, and to reveal its contents … well … let’s just say things take a turn akin to the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Regardless, in spite of Five Year Engagement’s lackluster trailer, seeing Segel strap on his sad-sack character is pretty welcome. Working with his frequent collaborator Nicholas Stoller (director and co-writer here), Segel gets to play with some extremely talented comedy folk — specifically NBC’s Thursday stars Alison Brie (Community) and Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation). From the trailer, Five Year Engagement might not be the Bridesmaids-size cultural phenomenon Apatow and Universal are hoping for, but if it comes close to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we all win.
Browne: Silver, I can't believe they discussed "The Jewish Drawer" either. I mean, is nothing sacred? Despite that rude slip up, Emily Blunt is perfect so I will see this 8 times.
So the story here is that The Cabin in the Woods was shot back in 2009 but never released because its studio, MGM, went bankrupt. Now it’s coming out, via Lionsgate, in April, two years after originally planned. In the time since, its star Chris Hemsworth put on so much Thor muscle he started going numb. That means the masses who flocked to see him charmingly swing his magic hammer might not even recognize him here. But the big attraction is Cabin's serious genre credentials, in the form of co-writer/demigod Joss Whedon — who, like Hemsworth, is onto bigger things, with the Avengers movie — and co-writer/director Drew Goddard, the man behind Cloverfield.
Daniel Silver: If it weren’t for the presence of the 33-year-old Malin Akerman (sorry, Malin. You’re awesome and I love you) I would have assumed Catch .44 was a cheap Tarantino knock off from 17 years ago. Malin would have been a teen back then, so there’s no way she could have been in this. But if this wasn’t made in the mid nineties, why would Academy Award winner Forrest Whitaker be throwing on such a ridiculous accent? Bruce Willis’ look today vs. 1995 is a push, so him being around doesn’t help. I have no idea what to make of this one. Rembert…for the love of all things 2 Days in the Valley can you please shed some light?
Rembert Browne: Here's what happened. They told Bruce will to rent The Departed and The Dark Knight to study how Jack and Heath transform into manipulative leaders Frank Costello and the Joker. But when Bruce got to Blockbuster, those movies were gone, so he rented all five Die Hard movies, bought a pint of Breyers' heath bar ice cream, picked up 3 handles of Jack at the neighboring liquor store, and practiced for this role in Demi's back yard. It's sad, really.
Suzanne Collins' YA book trilogy The Hunger Games is a legit blockbuster, but now it’s heading into its second phase. Can the movie adaptation, in theaters in March, win over the masses that were immune to the manifold charms of the dystopian novels? It’s not only its studio, Lionsgate, that’s hoping this thing becomes a Twilight-size mega-obsession: As evidenced by the fact this new trailer premiered on Good Morning America earlier today, there is a whole lot of media invested in seeing Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the fresh-faced cast become stars. With mass appeal being the goal, you might have thought director Gary Ross would tone down some of the brutality and gloom of the books. But from the looks of this trailer, at least, you'd have thought wrong! All primary elements — from the depressed District 12 kids, to the rich weirdos in the capital, to the bloodthirsty free-for-all in the arena — are present and accounted for, and the result is a promising 2½ minutes. Congratulations, Gary Ross! You can, at least so far, not worry pitchfork-wielding Hunger Games fans storming your house.