Holiday Trailer Round-Up

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?

Green Lantern

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.)

Review: The Town

"ZZZ..." (Normally he can sleep with his eyes open, even while delivering lines.)Ben Affleck has a bone to pick with America. Apparently, somewhere along the way during a decade and a half of crappy performances (Pearl Harbor, Jersey Girl) in sloppy bomb-ass movies (Daredevil, Paycheck) Affleck managed to convince us that he was the laziest actor in Hollywood. I’m not talking Alfred Molina munching the scenery while shucking phony accents lazy. I’m talking full-on, Christian Bale stern-face / raspy-voice negligence. But that’s the thing. Affleck isn’t a bad actor. Anyone who’s seen his momentary performance in Good Will Hunting will tell you that there is a competent and compelling performer in there, lying dormant, waiting to strike. The Town is Affleck’s moment to shine, as both actor and director, proving to the world that he is a captivating creative mind, in spite of the mountains of evidence otherwise.

Maybe Affleck is only a decent actor when he has a decent director to propel his performance. Kevin Smith couldn’t do it, and I don’t think anyone expects Michael Bay to coach an actor out of anything other than a blouse. Shocking but true- Affleck’s performance is one of several incredible performances housed within The Town, meaning the dude can coax it out of a number of unlikely sources. As a lead, Affleck provides the viewer with a complex and emotionally believable character (for the first time ever!). I don’t think that anyone would expect any less from Jeremy Renner, but it’s clear that Affleck’s influence pushes Renner to some incredible and interesting pressure points throughout the story. Rebecca Hall delivers an emotionally honest and startlingly human performance here, and perhaps most bizarrely, Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively seems incapable of crafting anything short of masterful within the thin context of what she’s given. Only Jon Hamm delivers a performance under par (compared to his normal work on the tele-box) and it’s clearly the exception that proves the rule."Wow, Jon. A drawing of your penis. Really impressive. This kind of thing might work on the set of Mad Men, but not here. Jesus."Affleck’s ability to coach his actors is skillful, but his directorial eye is even more so. Affleck lovingly apes Clint Eastwood’s visual style, making The Town a movie filled with well-shot sequences and occasionally beautiful framing. Either Affleck’s cinematographer is a talent on autopilot or equal parts of the director’s skill went into harnessing human drama and unleashing it onto the audience with calculated camera maneuvers. I was sincerely impressed with Affleck’s ease of storytelling and the fact that his acting/directing combo never felt forced or self-indulgent. He manages to tell a story in which he’s basically in every shot, yet it doesn’t come off as masturbatory. That’s a difficult tightrope walk for any actor, but it seems more impressive that Affleck pulls it off with aplomb after phoning it in so many times before. I don’t mean to disparage the man’s entire body of work, but this is the titular douchebag in Gigli we’re talking about. The fact that he knows which direction to point the camera is a miracle.

The Town is a well-structured drama, but the performances are the only thing keeping it from feeling by-the-numbers. Based on the marketing campaign and subject matter, I thought the studio was simply going for a Departed knock-off here, but the two films are very different. Departed is an action movie with dramatic moments, and Town is a drama with action sequences. I personally prefer the tone of the latter, but I will say that the twists and turns of Departed would have been a welcome addition to the dry and mostly predictable story of Town. In spite of the story’s lack of memorable moments, I can’t help but note that this movie has some of the best performances I’ve seen all year (outside of Piranha 3D of course) and the story’s dramatic beats are a win-win affair. I could seriously watch Rebecca Hall have an authentic emotional breakdown all day, which probably means I need therapy.

The Town is without a doubt one of the best pictures of the year (helped graciously by the current dearth of quality films) but it is certainly a welcome reprieve from the entertainment shit-storm at the cinemas. Ben Affleck might only be a great actor when he’s directing himself, but if he continues to pick and execute his projects so skillfully, consider me his latest and greatest fan.