Tag Archives: thrillers

Movie Trailers For A Lovely Sunset

Since the summer movie season officially begins in March now, kicked off with Sucker Punch and Paul, April is kind of like the way that  May used to be long ago and belongs to the comedies and less big action films. Besides the very dark, quirky superhero Super, starring Rainn Wilson, April brings us:

1) An Arthur remake. Okay, yes, first initial question is why do this, but by gender switching the butler and handing the role to Dame Helen Mirren, and letting Jennifer Garner explore her crazy side, the new flick manages to make some yucks on its own. It’s not Shakespeare, but it is his clowns:

2) Ceremony, a quirky comedy about a young guy, played by Michael Angarano, trying to break up the wedding weekend of his older ex-girlfriend, played by Uma Thurman, gets a wider release in April. The supporting cast looks like it runs away with this one, particularly Lee Pace as the groom. (We still miss Pushing Daisies, Lee.)

3) There have been many movies about high school proms, but this one may be the whackiest of them all, and from Disney no less. Prom, starring the next group of young ones to keep an eye on:

4) Hoodwinked was a terrific animated movie and a big hit across a wide age group.  It took them awhile to get the sequel off the ground, and so Anne Hathaway, who voiced Red Riding Hood, has been replaced by Hayden Panettiere, but the rest of the voice cast is back and joined by people like Joan Cusack, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, etc. The gang, who have a cool new headquarters, have to save the fairy tale world from disaster when Hansel and Gretel are kidnapped in Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs. Evil:

5) The Scream franchise has gone through its ups and downs and the Scary Movie satire franchise, but now they’re back to end the thing properly in Scream 4, in which Sydney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, returns back to her hometown ten years after her ordeals, where her pain has become a lucrative tourist trade. And a new Ghostface Killer goes after younger stars like Hayden Panettiere (there she is again!) Emma Roberts and Kristen Bell, apparently not remembering that all the other Ghostface Killers met grisly ends. And yes, it is more fun watching David Arquette and Courtney Cox relate to each other as characters in the movie with an unraveling marriage, than in real life.

6) Dylan Dog is a famous comic book series from Italy that was set in London. This new film version adapted from the series moves the locale to Louisiana, characters have been changed and there’s still plenty of horror, but they’ve added a lot of comedy. Old fans will probably hate it, but for the rest of us, it actually looks rather fun with decent special effects for a B-level supernatural thriller. Brandon Routh, like a lot of actors, got a raw deal being cast in the weird Superman reboot and forced to stiffly channel Christopher Reeve. Since then, he’s shown more of what he can do in cameos in things like Chuck and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and here he plays Dylan Dog, a “nightmare hunter” private eye in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night:

7) Keanu Reeves plays a slightly dazed man who accidentally ends up in prison for a bank robbery, meets James Caan in prison, and when he gets out, decides to actually rob the bank he was accused of heisting in Henry’s Crime. It looks silly, in a good way:

8) Historical drama thrillers can vary, but The Conspirator, about the woman accused of being part of the assassination conspiracy of President Lincoln, looks kind of interesting and has a great cast:

9) I watched The Fast and the Furious and enjoyed it, but didn’t bother to watch the rest. But since they’ve now brought Vin Diesel back into the franchise and are upping the ante in the cast each time, the fifth one in the franchise, Fast Five, is looking kind of good. Watch the Rock deliver the killer line in the trailer:

10) I read Water for Elephants and it’s a lovely novel, but I’m not sure what made it special will translate well to film. Robert Pattison and cast attempt it, however:

11-13) Trailers I’ve shown before which have settled into April release dates: Rio, the animated comedy about parrots, a new trailer for that; Hanna, the thriller about a teenage girl who may be a secret government experiment trained to be an assassin by her father; and Your Highness, the stoner comedy gone medieval fantasy with a great cast:

And that’s April, a little something for everyone.

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Movie Trailers to Cheer Us Up in the New Year

There is sad news in the world today, and so we turn for a brief respite to movie trailers, because I don’t want to think anymore about the other stuff:

1) First up, this month in January, Thandie Newton and Hayden Christensen discuss how they have funky first names while starring in a supernatural horror post-apocalypse movie called Vanishing on 7th Street. The lights go out in Detroit, most of the population disappears, leaving clothing and objects behind, and then the sun doesn’t show up and the few survivors realize the darkness is eating people. Think Pitch Black meets the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and only those car headlamps can save us. Actually, it looks creepily kind of interesting:

2) Next, James Cameron is doing something weird in February producing the film Sanctum, and when Cameron likes to get weird, it’s often worth checking out. An adventure thriller about a cave expedition team who are in a really big, scary, largely submerged cave system:

3) Also in February, Ed Helms revisits Hangover territory in a comedy about an incredibly sheltered, messed up  insurance salesman who goes to  Cedar Rapids, Iowa to a convention to save his company and gets taken on a wild ride in the big city in the comedy filmCedar Rapids:

4) In March, Bradley Cooper takes the leading man role in the SF thriller Limitless, about a blocked writer who takes an experimental brain boosting drug and finds he can see every which way he’s in trouble with Robert DeNiro:

5) Also in March is the animated kids comedy Mars Needs Moms, which has Joan Cusack voicing a mom who looks scarily like Joan Cusack. Seth Green voices the boy who strives to get his mom back from the aliens and Dan Fogler, the Tony-winning singer who is fast becoming one of my fav character actors, plays a guy helping the boy out:

6) April brings us Hanna, a spy thriller about a rogue agent who trains his daughter to be an assassin, and he may have done that because of a secret experiment. Think The Professional meets Species. The teen girl, Saoirse Ronan, is another one of these scarily brilliant kid actors. Maybe they are breeding those in experiments. And Cate Blanchett does her ice queen best:

7) Also in April, on the other side of the axis, is a talent-loaded, very odd trash comedy, Your Highness from the folks who did Pineapple Express. It features Danny McBride as the ner-do-well brother in a fairy tale kingdom to James Franco’s more heroic prince. When Franco’s bride, Zooey Deschenel (yay! More funky first names!) is kidnapped by wizard Justin Theroux who wants to take over the world, McBride’s Thadeous has to saddle up and help his brother with the aide of an uber-competent warrior woman played by Natalie Portman, shaking off her ballerina blues:

 

 

 

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Mad Hatter Awards — Entertainment Weekly Edition

We got the Summer Movie Preview edition of Entertainment Weekly recently. I’d already heard about one controversy from it, but I was rather amused at a bunch of market-speak that were worthy of Mad Hatter Awards, and so here they are:

1) First prize goes to director George Nolfi, who is helming his feature debut in The Adjustment Bureau, for which he also wrote the screenplay, a thriller based very loosely on a short story by Philip K. Dick, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, about a politician who falls for a ballerina and then must elude a shadowy agency that adjusts reality and seeks to keep them apart. Nolfi wants to pretend he didn’t do a sci-fi movie: “Sci-fi to me conjures up lasers and spaceships and time travel. This movie is told very realistically.” Because it is very realistic to be able to adjust the fabric of reality.

Philip K. Dick is of course the science fiction author most beloved by Hollywood. Numerous works of his have been made into film, and his dark, dsytopian visions have had a profound impact on cinema. Rather than capitalize on that or the large interest in SFF films, Mr. Nolfi seems to feel that thriller-goers will avoid speculative elements if you call them that, which is of course nonsense, as is the claim that sci-fi stories never deal with reality. I’m likely to see the film at some point, as I like both Damon and Blunt, but I suspect I will avoid Mr. Nolfi’s other films in the future, as he is most dreadfully out of date and out of touch with reality. He may need an adjustment from the bureau. 🙂

2) Second prize goes to actress Julia Roberts and writer-director Ryan Murphy for their comments on their up-coming summer movie Eat, Pray, Love, adapted from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir. Roberts starts things off with the quote: “But one of the things I really loved about our approach to this material is that people took it very seriously. This wasn’t gone into as a frothy, girl journey. This is a person’s soul-searching experience.” And Murphy finishes it off with the appeal: “This is for the ladies who sat through five action movies with their boyfriends, and it’s their chance to say ‘My turn.'”

So, get it straight ladies — you do not like action movies; you like frothy girl journeys, because women’s movies are always usually  inconsequential bilge water. But this movie is not a frothy girl journey. It’s a soul searching story that will only appeal to women, who do not like icky boy movies. And they aren’t being condescending toward women at all, really they aren’t. Again, Murphy does the t.v. series Glee, which I like a lot, and Roberts is of course an institution to whom I’ve often given money. But as I have no interest in this film whatsoever, I will not be facing a crisis of conscience on this one. I’ll just go to the icky boy action movies that I drag my husband to. And wonder when actors and filmmakers will stop talking to me as if I was a little girl who had to be educated on proper female interests when they clearly don’t have a clue themselves.

3) Next in the special condescending toward gender section is the quote that is causing the Internet controversy — regarding the movie Salt. The movie, about a possible Russian sleeper spy, was originally written for a guy and was going to star Tom Cruise. But he dropped out, and they re-did it for Angelina Jolie. Which is certainly a nice thing and Jolie can definitely carry an action movie. But then we get this quote from the film’s director Phillip Noyce: “In the original script, there was a huge sequence where Edwin Salt [the original character] saves his wife, who’s in danger. And what we found was when Evelyn Salt [the new character played by Jolie]  saved her husband in the new script, it seemed to castrate his character a little. So we had to change the nature of that relationship.” They changed it by having the husband able to save himself.

Now, I actually give Noyce foolhearty points for openly declaring how much focus group research and studio concerns for demographics control the film process. But as a way to sell the movie to either men or women, it stinks. It particularly stinks for the audience of women who might be interested in this film. After lauding how they made Jolie’s character kick-ass and how much we should appreciate that they did so for a girl, they simply announce that as a woman, she can’t act totally like a guy [only the sexy parts of being guy-like, not the competent parts] and a guy can’t be saved by a woman in an action picture. Otherwise, his precious masculinity will be somehow threatened. Castrated, even. It’s Mad Hatter logic, made all the more funny because in her action films, Jolie’s characters have saved Daniel Craig (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,) Brad Pitt (Mr. & Mrs. Smith,) and James MacAvoy (Wanted,) among others, without apparently these films causing a castration crisis. I suspect, like The Adjustment Bureau, I will probably end up seeing Salt at some point, but these sort of things make the film sound more boring, not more interesting.

4) And lastly, we have Iron Man 2, where director Jon Favreau takes this swipe: “On one side, you have Spider-Man, which has its charms, and on the other side you have The Dark Knight, which has a complexity to it. We’re somewhere in the middle. There’s a certain humor, irreverence, and panache to Tony Stark. Thats what’s unique to us.” Yeah, that’s the scale — wisecracks and complexity. Forget that the essence of Spiderman is about the dark side of superheroes — with great power comes great responsibilty — and that the films are morally complex (particularly the story concering Doctor Octopus.)  Forget that The Dark Knight’s rift on vigilantism owes more than a few notes to Spider-Man. Forget that making Tony Stark a wise-cracking and irreverant superhero — which he’s not originally if you’ve ever read the actual comic book — was cribbed from fellow Marvel character Spider-Man, and is hardly unique to comics in any case.

I am, again, fond of Favreau and will definitely be seeing Iron Man 2. But that’s the point — Iron Man was a hit and the franchise is on-going, so “defining” the sequel was entirely unnecessary. Whereas the Spider-Man operation has been shut down and there was utterly no reason to diss Sam Raimi as being a director without complexity. So Favreau gets the runner-up award.

Honorable Mention goes to the folk who made Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe. The film was supposed to originally be entitled Nottingham and tell the story from the Sheriff’s point of view, with Crowe playing him. Instead, they decided to re-make Prince of Thieves and have Crowe play Robin Hood back from the Crusades. It’s not exactly illogic, but it’s a sad piece of wimpy film-making.

So that’s all my kvetching for today. Something more interesting and less complainy in subject matter I’m planning to have up soon.

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