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There’s a lot of laughably awesome films on the horizon, so let’s check them out as a family, won’t you?
Aside from the creepy pseudo-prosthetic CG keeping young Jeff Bridges in motion, everything in this trailer is mind-numbingly boner-inducing. It might be an after-effect of the robotic backwards walkin’ love slaves, or the fact that Olivia Wilde is constantly eying our main character like a slab of man meat, but there’s something markedly sexified about the new Tron. ‘Sexy’ isn’t exactly the word I’d use to describe the old Tron– maybe ‘awesome’ or ‘virginal to the point of embarrassment’- but this film’s imagineers clearly want geeks, gamers and lonely losers alike to flock in droves with the hopes of catching a stiffy from the mass quantities of silicon and silicone inherent in this picture. Sign me up, assuming this film hasn’t lost its sense of humor during the two decades of anonymity. Bridges may be mumbling for a paycheck, but he’s still more watchable than most stars even when bored to tears and wrapped in vestments from Space Mutiny. I’m at a loss for words when it comes to clearly sexist yet sexy pictures like these. You might as well treat the whole ordeal like a Katy Perry music video. Just turn the sound down and space out to the visuals as if you were a 7th grader discovering his erection to a Blink 182 album cover. (Also being really, really stoned couldn’t hurt.)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
This is literally the most expensive looking movie trailer I’ve ever seen. The quality of the effects alone are enough to draw my interest. They really help me overlook the whole Jesus-Lion parable bullshit wreaking havoc on the narrative. Minotaurs and talking rats are always a plus, not to mention the overt sexual tension with an amorphous spirit goddess. I guess the past two movies were popular (I thought the first one was shit and didn’t see the second- I always liked that hokey BBC miniseries better) because the filmmakers clearly have enough dough now to throw wads of it at the screen with reckless abandon, like Kanye West hucking gold doubloons at his television to change channels. Let’s hope this movie has a decent enough story to justify the insanity of its budget (whatever imaginary number that may be) and that the filmmakers haven’t gone the Gore Verbinski or Raimi route and let the studio fund their movie under the auspices of dumbing it down to the point of statutory boredom. Then again, with all the Christian godliness at play maybe this movie could use a few trainwrecks. Spider-Man 3 dance sequences, anyone?
Red Riding Hood
Is this one of those parody trailers preceding Tropic Thunder? Did American McGee crap this out while doodling rape fantasies on the back of a napkin at Comic-Con? I can understand why Catherine Hardwicke would want to exploit her Twilight fanbase for another quick buck, but even she has to understand how shamelessly moronic this is. At least her visual style is improving, evolving from the too dour blandness of the Twilight saga to this oversaturated self-important nonsense. I could only stomach the first thirty minutes of her Twilight movie, but I have a feeling the warm colors and cinematography will make this picture slightly more watchable, even if the acting and story can’t. Little Red Riding Hood is all grown up, but she still has the emotional maturity of a third grader (that way teenage girls can relate). I just hope that when they cut Red and Grandma out of the Wolf’s belly it’s presented as an even-handed metaphor for the Planned Parenthood generation.
The Green Hornet
Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen’s frequently delayed foray into superhero action-comedy is finally about to hit theaters (maybe, probably, sometime soon, we promise), and it looks like there’s a decent chance that it might actually be watchable. While I’m still skeptical as ever that Gondry’s unique softness of style will translate well into American blow-em-up cinema, Rogen’s likability and charm may mask the obvious filmmaking flaws and allow audiences to overlook the fact that the guy playing Kato can’t fucking speak English. As usual, the marketing campaign seems myopically focused on Seth Rogen’s rich party-boy anti-hero (*cough* Tony Stark *cough*) and his pseudo-gay relationship with his live-in Asian man servant/bodyguard. Christoph Waltz and Cameron Diaz struggle to breathe from the cutting room floor, their exclusion serving only to benefit Christoph’s Oscar-winning credibility and Cameron’s lack thereof. I enjoyed Inglorious Basterds and What Happens in Vegas about equally, so I suppose I can survive this movie too. Ugly, bare-bones set design and 90s action-comedy gags might be the real nail in the coffin here, because aside from that guy who doesn’t speak English (who- Gondry or Kato?) there’s enough charm and personality here to make something fun happen. And if it’s bad, it’ll be easy to forget, because let’s face it- what superhero is more forgettable than The Green Hornet?
This movie trailer is a crash course in killing credibility. Ryan Reynolds has so much smugness and goodwill built up in his jawline that it’s almost impressive how quickly the filmmakers are willing to date-rape their audience. I’ll admit that the effects look better on the big screen than the computer screen, but even given that caveat the big purple fucking face at 1:00 is an absolute career killer for all humans involved. Not only is the Tinky-Winky spaceman a disappointingly awful reveal, it’s also an indication of the absolutely dorky tone the filmmakers are taking to an otherwise interesting character. The Green Lantern is an everyman called to duty by a higher power. Sounds biblical, right? Kind of ruins that momentum when your godlike deity figure turns out to be the bastard love-child of Frankenstein and the California Raisins. If it had been Jar Jar Fucking Binks I would have been more excited, honest to God. Oh, and speaking of Episode One, here’s the rest of the goddamn trailer. Blake Lively vomits dialog at the epicenter of the movie’s shittiness, radiating shit tremors around her at a twenty mile radius. If this movie were a literal black hole, crushing credibility down to an unknowable quantum singularity, it would still be an understatement to say that she sucks. She sure is pretty though! And I’m sure that’s exactly what the film executives thought when they greenlit this monstrosity and released the nuke that killed us all. I don’t know if this movie is going to be any good, but I can guarantee that some kid is going to shove one of those Green Lantern action figures right up his ass. And that’ll still be the best thing to happen to this character all year.
Cowboys and Aliens
At first I thought this was a live-action adaptation of Red Dead Redemption, fulfilling my geekiest of fantasies by saturating its cast with eye candy (again Olivia Wilde) and elderly show-stoppers (Harrison Ford). Then I realized it was some shit with aliens. Whatever. Wild Wild West was a huge smash hit and Iron Man 2 was a stunningly cerebral triumph, so why shouldn’t this be perfect? I don’t know. I give up. I’m going drinking. (Also, the modern James Bond franchise is dead, so this is as close as we might get to Daniel Craig kicking real ass on the big screen for a while. Let’s just hope this goes the route of Men in Black instead of the route that its asinine title might suggest.)
In case you ever doubted my ability to loudly shout jokes in public, I present to you the greatest example.
This is me as Doug “The Slug” Armstrong alongside my former roommate Mitch aka Wild Wolf Wiggle at a little annual event the students of Northwestern University like to call Wrestlepocalypse. Mitch and I were the inaugural wrestling commentators and the show became so popular that we were invited back to perform it for a second year. According to campus reports, the show is still an annual tradition. Feels good to know I made an impact, other than the ass-grooves I left in my commentator chair. Hope you enjoy this blast from the past!
If you’re interested in seeing more clips from the show, simply search for “Wrestlepocalypse” on YouTube. The entire first show is online, as lovingly shot by cinematographic genius David Lassiter.
Wrestlepocalypse is the superhuman brainchild of Alex Hartzler and Nick Kanellis. It is also the best thing ever. Copyright, those guys, circa whenever this happened. Clearly I’m still hungover from this monstrosity.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a visual masterpiece, Edgar Wright’s finest cinematic showing in terms of special effects mastery, the integration of stylized comic-book tropes and the amazing impossibility of wrangling a monstrously talented cast that performs above and beyond the call of duty. Michael Cera’s Scott Pilgrim is a throwback to Arrested Development‘s George Michael, and while many would claim that he’s been rehashing that same generic melancholy youth for years now, Scott Pilgrim would change that impression, albeit subtly. There is a beautiful and charming way in which Cera commands the comedic punchline-heavy comic strip dialog in this picture, and his youthful innocence shines through in a way that it never could have in say, Nick & Nora’s Infamous Shamefest. The rest of the cast is charismatic and crush-worthy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza providing enough alternating attractiveness and affability to let the film’s weaker punchlines slide. Even supporting cast members like Scott’s band-mates find moments to stand out and make themselves memorable amidst all the comic book chaos, creating a universe that fans and newcomers alike can easily see themselves revisiting.
Knives Chau, played by Ellen Wong, has a lot of funny and cute moments, but they’re mostly relegated to the second half of the movie after Scott’s relationship with Ramona fires up and her seven evil exes come into play. The fights are energetic and enjoyable, mixing motifs from Street Fighter, Dance Dance Revolution and graphic novels to visually underscore the sheer awesomeness abounding in every frame. Lovable is the key word I would use to describe this picture, and as someone who had never read a single Scott Pilgrim comic I was immediately won over to the characters, the brilliant interplay of dialog and the fun of watching absolutely ridiculous things appear on screen. It’s a rare occurrence, and in the same way that the Wachowski Bros. packed Speed Racer with mind-bending visual concepts that were ahead of their time, Edgar Wright does them one better by packing his film with a story as interesting as the acid-trip cinematic effects that Wright packs into every sequence.
There’s so much humor here delivered at such a pace that there is little time for true romance, a slight downside. I would have liked more moments where the jokes parted waves to allow for real romance. I understand Wright’s hesitance to slow down his comic book picture with schmaltz, but I believe he underestimates his own ability to capture the audience’s heart for a moment. Even a few brief non-quippy moments could have served the film well, possibly pushing it beyond “great movie” into “masterpiece” on the story level, as well as the visual one. I don’t want to spoil too much by explaining how the romance plays out but everything structurally functions perfectly, aside from a few moments that run long. (The cut of Scott Pilgrim I saw was like a delicious Dagwood sandwich with just a few too many pieces of pastrami.) Believe me, true believers, there’s plenty of ridiculous, explosive combat to be found here. The only thing that’s missing is a little more authentic sweetness.
The one thing you cannot claim about Scott Pilgrim is that it is boring. There is almost too much happening, but in the exact opposite way of Revenge of the Fallen where all of it was bad. Because of the nature of tackling seven villains in a single movie, some of them fall by the wayside. The movie should have taken more liberties with the number of exes and cut them down to the few that matter, because I feel like some of the characters seemed a little corny and one-note. Again, this movie is unstoppably funny, but I’m nitpicking at details that really could have been tweaked to make it applicable for all ages. The visual style of Scott Pilgrim is easily a cutting-edge integration of story and effects that should be considered for practical application at the advent of new three-dimension home video technology, but it, like Speed Racer before it, is a little too frenetic to capture the minds and hearts of audiences beyond a certain age group. There is a generation gap between those who understand the Legend of Zelda sound effects in the background and those who just hear bleeps and bloops. The charm of Scott Pilgrim relies on your preconceived knowledge of geek and pop culture, and if you’re out of the loop, it makes few concessions to slow down or censor itself.
For all these reasons, I love Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and think it is Edgar Wright’s finest film amongst many fine ones. It is the next step in the evolution of a multi-talented director and the multi-teared layered casting of the modern comedy. Rather than powerhouse leads dominating every scene, a variety of actors are given the opportunities to showcase their finest skills at the benefit of everyone. I cannot wait to see this movie for the second time.