Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D

March 16th, 2009

Okay, let me explain. I realize that I previously looked upon the trailer for this film with indifference bordering on disdain, as I do for most non-Pixar family film trailers. But I was given two free tickets to an advance screening at Century 20 Oakridge in San Jose, and really, how often does such an opportunity come up? I’m pretty glad I went too, because the film was surprisingly entertaining! The film was chock-full of sci-fi and monster B-movie hat tips and parody, and delightfully light on pointless toilet humor that you see so often in kid-friendly films. On top of that, it was in 3D! As with Coraline, the Real-D technology was put to excellent use creating stunning visuals. Sure, they threw in a few more “throw shit at the camera” gimmicks, but it looked purdy, and that’s what matters in the end. There’s nothing I like better than being proven wrong for the better, and I can confidently say that Monsters vs. Aliens is a pretty okay movie that you could maybe go see if you wanted. Feel free to skip 3D if you need to save some money though.

Alas, this movie continued My Bloody Valentine‘s pesky habit of being light on the trailers, with only a single entry! Worse, it was one I already saw. WORSE, it still looks dumb.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

TOTAL: 100% (1/1)

As of a March 16th advance screening of Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D at Century 20 Oakridge in San Jose, CA, we’re back at 100% unoriginality, which I will again let slide on account of the small sample size. After Ice Age 3 and Up, are we gonna be out of 3D movies? I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience those glasses can (sometimes) provide.

Followup question! Do any of you return the glasses? I’ve got four sitting on my car dash now. I ain’t payin’ extra for glasses I’m not even going to keep!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Coraline 3D

February 8th, 2009

Geoff, Kyle and I took another trek to the ol’ dependable local San Mateo theater last night for a screening of Coraline, presented in three dimensions! As mentioned in the previous HUR, I had been looking forward to this particular film for some time now, and it was a wonderful moviegoing experience. The 3D visuals were jaw-droppingly gorgeous; unlike Bloody Valentine, it was clear that this film was made for the stereoscopic projection system. I don’t even know how much justice my brief glowing description can give this movie, but in short: please go see Coraline right away, and watch it in 3D. This is the rare film where the glasses are not pure gimmick, but serve to add (forgive the pun) extra depth to the visuals. Go see it now!

New 3D movie means: new 3D trailers! We were all honestly surprised that so many 3D films are on the horizon. Always happy to get more trailers to analyze, but on the other hand, most of them are kid’s movies I’ll probably never see. Onward!

I was a little concerned about not seeing the next Pixar film teaser after watching WALL•E awhile back, so it was quite pleasing to see that not only do we get a full-fledged trailer of Up, but that the film is also being presented with 3D projection! I can only imagine it’s a relatively simple matter to re-run RenderMan with two virtual cameras instead of one, and the image looked clean and crisp through the Real D glasses. And come on, it’s Pixar, which means the film will no doubt be charming, amusing for all ages, and of course ORIGINAL.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Ugh! Of course, where there’s a new Pixar summer flick, a new Ice Age entry can’t be far behind. I’m really not a fan of this franchise, but they must be popular with the kids because they keep making more despite my (admittedly non-verbal) protests. The weirdest thing about Ice Age trailers is that they don’t actually show any of the main cast or events, opting instead to devote the entirety of the trailer time to the misadventures of saber-toothed squirrel Scrat. I’ll admit that there is great logic to this, as I always though Scrat’s comic stylings were the only funny part of the series, but I would never pay $13 just for Scrat’s sake. Even if the acorns look like THEY’RE COMIN’ RIGHT FOR US! SEQUEL, and if they don’t actually show the movie, what is anyone supposed to get hyped up for? Ray Romano and John Leguizamo?

Monsters VS Aliens
Kinda cute-looking ensemble kid’s movie I guess. Really don’t have much to say about it, though I’m always happy to see Dwight Schrute doing other projects (when they aren’t The Rocker). And though the Indestructible Gelatinous Mass will probably be a kind of irritating character, I liked the quick Blob shot. ORIGINAL in only the technical sense.

TOTAL: 33.33% 1/3

As of a February 7th screening of Coraline 3D at Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo, CA, the 3D branch of Hollywood shot for the moon with a mere 33.33% unoriginality! Like I said before, it’s a total gimmick, but there’s something really charming about putting on silly glasses and watching things pop out of the screen. It only saddens me that there will be no way to pick up Coraline in a home media format in 3D, as the old-fashioned 2D way of presenting movies just couldn’t look quite as good. But of course, this is exactly the point. Theaters want to compete directly against the home theater experience, and unreproducible gimmicks fit the bill perfectly. Can’t wait ’til we get new Smell-O-Vision movies!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: My Bloody Valentine 3D

January 18th, 2009

Geoff and I went to Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo last night to check out My Bloody Valentine, a horror movie where a miner kills people with a pickaxe. I’m not normally one to drop hard-earned cash on cheesy slasher flicks in the theater (Netflix is a wonderful way to get my fix while holding back on the simoleons), but I was particularly drawn to the experience because the movie was presented in glorious 3D!!! That’s right, no longer were we bound to the tyranny of mere height and width; this time, depth came along for the ride!

Sure, 3D is a gimmick Hollywood’s been trying to use on us for the last 50 years to put asses in seats, and generally isn’t used to any real artistic effect, but every once in awhile it can be a fun experience. Prior to this gem, I’d only previously seen two 3D movies in theaters (Spy Kids 3D: Game Over and The Nightmare Before Christmas; guess which one was actually good?), and this, well… was the third. Beyond the money shots of gruesome murders committed with pickaxe, most of the movie was so slow and uneventful it made severely poor usage of the technology. We counted three instances of a character slowly rotating a gun toward the camera. Okay guys, we get it, the movie’s IN 3D. It’s a fairly standard whodunnit storyline with a twist that I must confess I found somewhat disappointing (I don’t feel the clues were laid out very well, and the revelation leaves a lot of holes). But of course, you don’t see slasher films for the deep plots and shocking developments. If you see only one movie about a mass murderer offing people with a pickaxe this year… eh, wait and see, maybe the new Street Fighter movie will have something to offer.

I was a little surprised by the trailer fare, in that I was expecting the normal array of multiple films I don’t really care about seeing in the coming months, but instead, there was only one trailer! Real D, the company that provided the glasses and single-projector stereoscopy technology for My Bloody Valentine 3D apparently got to decide on the trailers or something, because that film was another 3D flick using the same projector system. Well hey, makes my job easier, and it got us into the movie quicker than I can ever recall, so hooray Real D!

Coraline 3D
Whoa ho! The only trailer they played and it’s something I actually want to see! Based on Neil Gaiman’s story of the same name (sans 3D) and therefore an ADAPTATION, Coraline is the first stop-motion animated movie filmed stereoscopically. What this basically amounts to is that the movie will look much better than the average 3D film because it was actually filmed in 3D! The video looked incredible. The effect was at its best not when things popped out of the screen, but when objects receded into the distance (especially one shot where Coraline opens the secret door and watches a tunnel extend backward into darkness). On top of that, I’ve already been pumped about this for some time, and now I will almost certainly seek out a 3D screening come release! Sadly, since your average computer does not have built-in stereoscopic video output capability, I can’t put up the 3D trailer, so go watch My Bloody Valentine 3D to check it out (I kid, of course).

TOTAL: 100% (1/1)

As of a January 18th screening of My Bloody Valentine 3D at Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo, CA, Hollywood has slated itself for a record 100% unoriginality! … But since there was only one trailer, I don’t feel that’s a fair assessment, and we’ll let them slide today.

Almost forgot to mention: the 3D glasses we got were amazingly dorky! Observe Geoff and myself, seeing the world through new eyes!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Quantum of Solace

November 23rd, 2008

Geoff, Kyle and I walked down to Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo last night to take a gander at the latest James Bond flick. Though I have been a big fan of Bond movies in the past, I hadn’t seen one since The World Is Not Enough, as that film (and the previous, Tomorrow Never Dies) left something of a bad taste in my mouth. I still consider GoldenEye to possibly be the best Bond movie ever made, so it was disappointing that they couldn’t keep up the momentum. The later Brosnan films went heavier on the action and lighter on the comedy, which didn’t really feel very Bond-ish to me at all, so I wasn’t in a hurry to see it through to its logical conclusion.

Okay, I’m done with the Bond film name-dropping now. Quantum of Solace was a great film! Perhaps somewhat ironically, it was the turn to more serious storytelling that won me over. The movie portrayed a more inexperienced 007, but also a more passionate one, a more believable character with faults and moments of realistic clumsiness. Bond can make mistakes! I also found it amusing that the Bond girl with the stupid jokey name was the one to get killed early on. I was afraid I’d have trouble following a direct sequel film without seeing the previous, but I think I would have been okay even if I hadn’t read Casino Royale. A fine flick that sheds all the old clichés to deliver a solid compelling story! That’s what I would say about Quantum of Solace if I were the kind of person that writes movie reviews. Thank goodness I am not.

“Come on man!” I hear you protesting, “We must know what trailers preceded this movie you saw last night!” I do apologize for keeping you waiting. On the bright side, with this post several months after the last HUR, there’s no trailer overlap!

Seven Pounds
I had absolutely no idea what was going on in this trailer. Apparently Will Smith sells his house to some lady at the beginning, and then… no, seriously, what the hell was going on? The trailer seems to make allusions to there being seven different stories intertwined around Smith’s character, but gives no real sense of how anything is connected. Or which parts were even different stories. Anyone want to provide some input on this? Did it make any sense to you? Points for ORIGINALity are vastly cancelled out by generic vague boring trailer clichés.

The International
Stop the presses! Clive Owen plays a guy that shoots guns and protects a lady?!? It’s an odd typecasting, but I suppose it works for him. Make sure you watch this one for a glass-breaking shootout scene that would seem to exceed every glass-breaking shootout scene ever made before. In terms of how much glass is broken. That building looks like it was designed to be shattered by Clive Owens’ bullets. Hooray for more ORIGINAL screenplays!

Star Trek
Hooray for trailer #2! Whereas the first was basically the biggest tease in the world, the new trailer delivers some genuine content. Zachary Quinto was a brilliant choice for a young Nimoy-alike, even if I keep thinking he’s going to kill Kirk and steal his woman-seducing powers. Simon Pegg’s Scotty clip, though brief, gives me additional hope for a better film than *shudder* Nemesis. Finally, J.J. Abrams has proven himself to me with the amazing success of Lost, so I’m extra-pumped that this will breathe some much-needed new life into a dying franchise (thanks a lot, Enterprise). Of course it’s an ADAPTATION and a PREQUEL, but it’s also friggin’ Star Trek! I’ll go see it in theaters like I have every other one since Generations.

Yes Man
Wait, didn’t Jim Carrey already star in a silly comedy wherein he was forced to respond differently to situations, with supposedly hilarious results? I wish I could label this as unoriginal based on its similarity to Liar Liar, but luckily I don’t have to! It’s based on a 2005 biography of the same name! ADAPTATION. Also stupid-looking.

Bedtime Stories
Adam Sandler is doing kids movies now? For Disney?! I thought his whole appeal was his crude adult humor, and I can’t imagine he gets to do much of that in a Disney film. Instead he’s being surrounded with lavish CGI dream sequences. At least he gets sprayed in the eyes with flame retardant. ORIGINAL, though none of the storytelling segments appear to be anything but derivative. Also: was that music from the Back to the Future Part III score in the western story? Why yes it was.

The Day The Earth Stood Still
Color me very wary. I am a huge fan of the original film; it’s rare that science fiction stories are told so seriously as they were in that brilliant allegory. While this movie looks like a perfectly solid sci-fi experience, it would seem to bear little resemblance to its predecessor. The potential destruction of Earth appears to be happening in the movie, whereas the original gave warning of dire consequences if our ways were not altered. I suppose you need action to sell tickets. I probably will go see this REMAKE, mostly because Keanu Reeves makes me crack up whenever I even think about him.

Welcome back to movies, Tom Cruise. Can’t say I missed you. Despite his presence, if we have to have ADAPTATIONs, at least they chose an interesting true story (the 20 July plot, specifically). I was amused to find that this story has been retold in movie form many times before, but hey, maybe there’s something new to add to it. Maybe they pull off the assassination this time! *fingers crossed*

TOTAL: 57.14% 4/7

As of a November 22nd screening of Quantum of Solace at Century 12 Downtown in San Mateo, CA, Hollywood is geared for a season of 57.14% unoriginality. Not a bad ratio at all, and beyond that, I might even go see a few of these! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rent Casino Royale. Thank you, Daniel Craig, for renewing my faith in the Bond franchise!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Get Smart

July 5th, 2008

Carlo and I went to the Regal Cinema Stadium 5 in Davis this Independence Day weekend to see Get Smart. I must admit having somewhat low expectations going into this, but I like Steve Carell enough to give his projects a chance. It was basically an Agent Michael Scarn movie, which is not a bad idea at all. Instead of doing a Don Adams impersonation, Carell decided to take his own spin on ol’ Agent 86, and I thought the results were pretty okay!

“But how were the trailers, man?!?” I hear you asking. Well ask no more!

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Hmm. I hate to nitpick, but if you were to fall thousands of miles and land in water, you would die. At terminal velocity (and probably even at lower speeds), hitting water is supposedly a lot like hitting concrete. It bugs me when movies use bodies of water as magic cushions to protect their freefalling protagonists. The rest of the trailer, with its crappy CGI and Brendan Frasereses, did nothing for me. This is like the third ADAPTATION of a classic story, and I’m going to guess it’s probably the worst of the bunch. PROVE ME WRONG, HOLLYWOOD.

Step Brothers
Is there some script writer in Hollywood throwing darts at a board covered with situations for Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly to play out in their buddy films du jour? I’m not complaining necessarily since I enjoyed what they did in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby so much, but I don’t necessarily want to see the same two actors portraying the same two stupid guys in the same kinds of movies for the next decade. Wikipedia says ORIGINAL, and Wikipedia is always right.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
I could have sworn I saw a trailer for this movie during a previous HUR, but the archives yield nothing. SEQUEL of an ADAPTATION. I had no interest in seeing the first movie, and was about to write this one off until I learned it was helmed by awesome director guy Guillermo del Toro! It’s got a freaky monster guy without eyes, which just made me think of the similar freaky eyeless monster guy from Pan’s Labyrinth. Then I found out that del Toro did the first movie too! Guess I’ll have to check them both out…. on Netflix or something.

The Accidental Husband
I guess this is about as ORIGINAL as a romantic comedy can be. Except it isn’t, because it’s a romantic comedy. The trailer actually reveals more than enough of the plot that no one needs to go see the movie; Uma Therman initially doesn’t like the guy but eventually does like him! Who saw that coming? The answer is: nobody saw that coming. We are shocked.

The Dark Knight

TOTAL: 66.67% (4/6)

Bottom line: as of a July 5th screening of Get Smart at Regal Davis Stadium 5 in Davis, CA, Hollywood is all set for 66.67% unoriginality. And the ones that were original, I probably won’t go see. Sucks to be you, Hollywood!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: WALL-E

June 27th, 2008

WALL-E was so cool! Incidentally, I went and saw WALL-E on opening night with some friends at, uh… damn, I have no idea what theater we went to, as someone else bought the tickets. I do know I was in San Mateo though! That ought to count for something.

WALL-E was so cool! This very well may be my favorite Pixar film to date, and that’s saying something. Any critics complaining about the lack of dialogue probably weren’t paying attention to the movie. It expertly conveyed emotion and backstory with minimal spoken lines. So yeah, critics are dumb, and WALL-E isn’t.

Perhaps I’ve become a little too attached to the HUR portion of this blog, but at least some of my pre-film excitement revolved around seeing a set of trailers from a rarely-explored genre: kid and family films! Let’s see how that went, shall we?

I was a little confused with this trailer. Though the computer graphics looked to be of a similar quality to Pixar’s works (the human character models in particular look like they were directly ripped out of The Incredibles), Pixar’s logo and name were nowhere to be seen; the movie was branded as a solely Disney affair. Perhaps Pixar did have some involvement (not an unreasonable assumption, since Disney owns them, and they seem to basically run the animation department now), but it doesn’t show in the writing. ORIGINAL, perhaps, but it also looks a bit boring.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua
AAAAAAAAAAH!!! I caught a glimpse of the teaser for this film awhile back when the RiffTrax blog brought it to my attention (presumably because they hate decency over there), and my brain died for like a week. The film did not redeem itself to me upon repeated trailer-viewing, no matter how ORIGINAL it may be. What inspired this movie exactly? The fact that numerous soulless celebrities carry around small dogs in purses? Is that the audience we’re pandering toward now?!? (EDIT: OH GOD HE’S POSTED ANOTHER REMINDER THAT THIS FILM EXISTS. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH SANDPAPER IN THE WORLD TO SUFFICIENTLY SCOUR THE SURFACE OF MY BRAIN AND REMOVE ALL TRACES OF MEMORIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS MOVIE)

The Pink Panther 2
Steve Martin is dead to me. SEQUEL of a REMAKE of a once-good film series starring a once-funny comedian.

The Tale of Despereaux
Sucks to be you, Universal! The definitive rodent movie came out like a year ago! Your ADAPTATION of a children’s novel has no effect on us. Mostly because it looks kind of saccharine.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
I could feel my entire group cringe when they started playing that horrible “I Like To Move It” song. Then animal asses started swaying on the giant screen. It all went downhill from there. A SEQUEL I may just miss.

The Longshots
Am I too hard on movies made for kids? Because this ADAPTATION of a true story doesn’t look appealing in the slightest to me. I try to argue that kid movies were a lot better when I was a kid, but am usually accused of viewing my childhood memories through rose-colored glasses. Then I punch the other guy and win the argument by default. Ice Cube is annoying!

Fly Me To The Moon
0_o Bad pun title. Poop-eating jokes. Tech college commercial-caliber CGI. ORIGINALity cannot save this waste of hard drive space and processor time.

TOTAL: 57.14% (4/7)

Let’s rock-talk: as of a June 27th screening of WALL-E in San Mateo, CA, Hollywood (or at least the part of Hollywood that little kids care about) was primed for 57.14% unoriginality. I had expected a much higher value, since kid movies are so often grabbed wholesale from books about witchcraft or wizardry or lions or witches or wardrobes. That said, the “original” films seen here were generally pretty derivative. My biggest disappointment stemmed from the fact that we didn’t see a trailer for Pixar’s next project; I can’t remember the last time that happened, and hope this doesn’t indicate the Next Great Film from That Totally Awesome Animation Studio will be a long time coming.

WALL-E was so cool!!!


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: The Happening

June 14th, 2008

I won’t even do the precocious beat-around-the-bush-not-a-review-but-it-actually-is-a-review thing this time. I saw The Happening on June 14th with friends at AMC Saratoga 14, and it sucked. It was the worst movie ever made. Marky Mark played a constantly confused science teacher, but either M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t know what science actually is, or hates it with a passion and is trying to covertly take it down by having dumb scientists in his movies. Zooey Deschanel has insanely creepy giant bug eyes, and stares at anything and everything in the film determinedly. But perhaps the worst offense a film called The Happening can possibly have is for nothing to happen during the entire movie. Oh sure, people die and the main characters run around aimlessly through the countryside, making mad dashes to outrun the scary wind, and hide out in Plot Point House at the end. But the characters never come to any concrete conclusions about what The Happening is supposed to be. The thing simply Happens, and then it stops Happening, and then it Happens again. On the bright side, the hot dog guy was somewhat amusing (he said he likes the shape of hot dogs; presumably it is left up to the viewer to decide what that means).

But yeah, the God-damned worst movie ever made. My friends and I weren’t sure if he could top Lady in the Water but I’m happy(?) to report that this is exactly what Happened.

Um… trailers!

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Oh hells yesses. I miss this friggin’ TV show like I miss no other, so I’m very excited to see the continuing misadventures of Mulder and Scully. I certainly don’t have any complaints about them classing up the joint with Billy Connolly. I gotta say though, Scully (since that is your real name, and not Gillian Anderson like you keep trying to tell me), you look a lot prettier with shorter hair. I’ll still ogle you during the whole movie, don’t worry, I’m just sayin’ is all. A SEQUEL and an ADAPTATION, of course, I won’t delude myself, but I’ll still be happily standing in line. I’m a sucker for beloved franchises.

Probably because I’m kind of weird, I have a lot of difficulty seeing Kiefer Sutherland onscreen and not thinking he’s Jack Bauer. So when I see him as the father figure in a family being terrorized by mirror monsters, I don’t worry for a second. I know that Jack Bauer will make short work of the mirror monsters, probably by shooting them in the knee and asking them where the bomb is, or simply garroting them if he doesn’t have time to deal with them. Apparently this is a REMAKE of a South Korean film. I don’t really care in any case; Jack Bauer just doesn’t feel very Jack Bauery on the big screen (he rarely even kills one guy, much less fifty, though he did some lovely assisted suicides in Flatliners), so I’ll just wait until the next season of 24 to get my fix.

Babylon A.D.
Oooooooooooh, Vin Diesel in a sci-fi movie with explosions, punching and guns. Best part: Vin Diesel shouts out “What is wrong with her?”, and the “what” sounds completely ridiculous. I can’t even describe it in text. I’m sure I’ll be watching this at Geoff’s house; the man has something of an unhealthy obsession with Vin Diesel. Oh yeah, ADAPTATION of the French novel “Babylon Babies.” I love how Wikipedia lets me say stuff like that, and it looks like I’m just really knowledgeable when it comes to French novels. None will be the wiser!


Swing Vote
Hooray. Nothing more timely than a movie about voting ballots not being counted in an extremely close election. OH WAIT, THAT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO. AND EIGHT YEARS AGO. Also, why does this movie have a thousand actors I recognize? I’m normally terrible with actor recognition, but I saw Dr. Conrad Zimsky, Howard Payne, Major Kira and Frasier! Just so you know, if it were up to me, I’d elect Dennis Hopper over Kelsey Grammer, but that’s just because Speed was so awesome. And- wait, what’s this? ORIGINAL?!? A bright shining beacon amidst a sea of all-this-has-happened-before-all-this-will-happen-againses! Well okay, it looks stupid, but that might just be Kevin Costner.

Nights in Rodanthe
Hey look, that guy from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Otherwise I don’t give a shit about this ADAPTATION based on the novel of the same name by Richard Sparks (thanks again, Wikipedia!). Is Richard Gere sexy? He seems to be in so many romance films, comedy and otherwise, but I just don’t see the appeal. Maybe people are remembering a time when he was more attractive?

Total: 83.33% (5/6)

Wow. As of a June 14th screening of The Happening (sucked sucked sucked sucked sucked) at AMC Saratoga 14 in Saratoga, CA, Hollywood was careening toward 83.33% unoriginality. Hollywood, this is basically a fail for you, especially if The Happening is the best you can do for original scripts.


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

May 24th, 2008

Please don’t mistake this for a review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which I saw today with Bevin at Regal Davis Stadium 5 (apparently the place to go for the popular films around here). I mean, sure, this movie was an absolute riot, a wonderful revisiting of a beloved character that I felt fully lived up to the legacy set before it not by being amazing but by simply being entertaining throughout (not quite as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but really, what movie could be?). The important thing is, HOW WERE THE TRAILERS?!?

I absolutely love going to big blockbuster films close to their release dates. Even when they’re complete crapfests, the experience of sitting in an audience full of enthusiastic moviegoing patrons is like no other. There’s a genuine electricity in the air. But best of all, they have more trailers! Not to mention a wider variety of trailer genres. Unfortunately, these trailers must be so new that they haven’t all been put online yet; I’ll update these entries with links when I can track ’em down.

Ah, Islamic terrorists. My generation’s Nazis/Communists, these pesky middle eastern extremists find their way into pretty much every film nowadays (including Iron Man) as the go-to generic villains. I dig Don Cheadle, and Jeff Daniels was in Speed, so I might hit this up if I’ve got the cash, and someone to go see it with. Wikipedia tells me Steve Martin came up with the plot and is executive producing! Take that for whatever it’s worth, but he didn’t seem to be inspired by anything beyond the Iraq War, so at least it’s ORIGINAL.

The Dark Knight

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Now this one intrigued me. There is almost no dialogue in this trail, which depicts the story of a man who ages backward and falls in love around the middle of his life. I’m not some kind of Brad Pitt superfan, but I certainly appreciate his acting ability, and hey, Cate Blanchett of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull fame is there too! The lack of voiceover certainly made me sit up and pay attention, and the imagery was compelling enough to keep my eyeballs on the screen. A quick Wiki look, however, tells me this is based on a 1922 short story, and is therefore an ADAPTATION. Not necessarily a terrible thing (if you’re gonna base a movie off a short story, stories of antiquity are probably the way to go so that no one remembers how they went), I’m just sayin’ is all.


*puts on Jerry Seinfeld mask* What is the deal with exterior shots in movies being so blatantly bluescreen CGI these days? *takes off mask* That opening shot of Nicole Kidman starting to tell a random little girl a story (a really boring generic one by the sound of it) just looks awful. Poignant opening scenes shouldn’t look like they’re on a soundstage. Is it that difficult to roll a camera in the desert around sunrise/sunset when there are some clouds in the sky? Also, is the little girl a Hollywood movie producer, and is Nicole Kidman pitching her latest movie idea? If so, I wouldn’t buy it. Like Benjamin Button, this trailer has a long stretch of non-dialogue, but the images simply weren’t as compelling to me. Huge Ackman of Swordfish fame doesn’t compel me to shell out $10 either. ORIGINAL, but not necessarily good. I’m not seeing much intersection on that particular Venn diagram.

Kung-Fu Panda
Ugh. No no no. As much as I love Jack Black, I refuse to see a vehicle movie starring him as a fat cartoon panda. I prefer movies starring him as a fat human who rocks. ORIGINAL? Sure, I guess.

Eagle Eye
Apparently there’s a small “trailers starring characters from the movie you’re about to watch” theme. It’s like some shitty recommendation system: “If you like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, you may also like…”. Sorry, but I don’t actually like Shia LeBouf. The bitter taste of Transformers and those voyeuristic robots watching kids dry-hump is still fresh in my mind (if minds could taste things, anyway). When the phone rang, I thought for a split second that it was one of those “please turn off your cell phones” ads, because the whole thing’s just so damn generic. Shia LeBouf gets phone calls BROUGHT TO YOU BY SPRINT and there are guns and explosions and jumping from high heights, but at the end I had no idea what the hell was going on. Is it still ORIGINAL if I thought it was some kind of new Matrix movie, with the prescient phone calls and the slightly green tint on everything? I guess it still is.

Total: 28.6% (2/7)

Let’s break it down: as of a May 24th screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at Regal Davis Stadium 5 in Davis, CA, Hollywood is en route to being 28.6% unoriginal. I can’t remember the last time I counted this many movies not derived from a prior story at one screening. I’d consider this quite refreshing… if Kung-Fu Panda didn’t exist.


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Iron Man

May 18th, 2008

Be forewarned: this is not a review of Iron Man, the latest comic-book-turned-blockbuster-film Bevin and I went to see last Sunday at Regal Davis Stadium 5. It is completely irrelevant that the movie was a delightful action-packed romp that didn’t suck like all those other comic-book-turned-blockbuster-films thanks in no small part to Robert Downey Jr.’s acting chops and Jeff Bridges’ having been totally awesome in Big Lebowski so it always rocks to insert his Dude lines into every movie he’s in. We’re here to talk about the trailers!

The Dark Knight
Apple hasn’t put up the trailer I saw yet, but this should get the fact across that the Joker is in it. (Update: correct trailer linked) The Joker’s in it. I’m sure this movie will get a lot of extra asses in seats on account of it being Heath Ledger’s posthumous celluloid appearance, but I was excited about the latest entry in the fat bloated puss-seeping Batman series before his untimely demise. Batman Begins was a wonderful movie despite anything that starts with the word “Batman” being an ADAPTATION of the comic book series of the same name, and its SEQUEL is shaping up to carry on its grittier depiction of Gotham City and its inhabitants with aplomb.

You know what? Normally I wouldn’t give Will Smith a second glance beyond seeing his movies because they’re so shit-tastic, but… I think this one looks like fun. Certainly they’re capitalizing on the general success of superhero movies (more on that below), but taking a comedic slant without it being Superhero Movie is an admirable goal, and Jason Bateman has settled quite comfortably into his stiff Michael Bluth typecasting and made it work for him. And to top it off? ORIGINAL. This is the rare diamond in the rough I love to find amidst all the also-rans.

The Love Guru
God! Please! No! Not another movie where Mike Myers plays a sexy dude that the ladies all desire to have sex with and also he’s a walking stereotype with a crappy accent! I think this movie might actually be my fault; there was a distinct moment where I was walking down the street and thought to myself: “it sure is a good thing Mike Myers ran the Austin Powers franchise into the ground, and that we will therefore never see another movie like that collective pile of dreck”. Clearly Fate is a cruel mistress that listens in on my internal monologue. Bitch. ORIGINAL, with more offensiveness than you can shake a midget at. And they do. Shake a midget at offensiveness, that is.

You Don’t Mess With The Zohan
Here’s the one I forgot to mention before. My unconscious mind had almost successfully removed it from memory, but I had to be curious and ask too many questions, and it all came pouring back. At this point I remember asking “Why only one comic book movie trailer? Are no more coming out any time soon, that we have to sit through this bullshit?” One thing is for certain: Rob Schneider will never want for employment as long as Sandler continues to star in movies. ORIGINAL, except for the Prince of Persia/Assassin’s Creed-evoking wall-jumping at the beginning of the trailer. Oh yeah, also it will blow. Adam Sandler and all. (fun fact: Bevin and I simultaneously turned toward each other and grimaced after both this and Love Guru. Great minds, I suppose)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Yay! Somehow the still-bitter taste left in my mouth from the Star Wars prequels has not affected my excitement for this long-rumored SEQUEL to the Indiana Jones series. Maybe I’ve got faith in Harrison Ford, maybe I think Steven Spielberg has the ability to cancel out George Lucas’ immense shittiness, or maybe I’m just really happy to see Marion Ravenwood again, but I have a good feeling about this one. The trailer is pretty generic, and it felt weird to watch a preview for a movie due out in four days, but screw it, Indy is so cool. Lucas had better not fuck this up.

Total: 40% (2/5)

To sum it up: as of a May 18th screening of Iron Man at Regal Davis Stadium 5 in Davis, CA, Hollywood is poised to be 40% unoriginal. Oh, and I didn’t stay ’til the end of the credits, because I knew that the footage couldn’t possibly meet all the hype everyone gave me. I was right. Spoiler alert I guess:

Does anyone actually care that there might be an Avengers movie? The Avengers weren’t cool; I would have been much happier with a straight-up Iron Man sequel, though one isn’t strictly necessary. All it shows me is just how bottom-of-the-barrel they’re getting with the Marvel/DC properties. I’m still holding out for the Aquaman movie. It’s coming, just you wait.

This really just exemplifies the whole reason I keep track of things like Hollywood’s unoriginality. If I hadn’t just dropped $7.50 on a movie ticket, I would talk about how we need to stop going to see comic book superhero movies, so that they stop making them. Please, do your part like I didn’t do.

Oh yeah, one more thing about Iron Man: there were several scenes that would have been better places to insert “Iron Man” then where they put it. I get it, he says “I am Iron Man” and then you play the song, very cute and all, but that riff was begging for an ass-kicking scene.


Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Be Kind Rewind

February 26th, 2008

Again, this is not intended to be a review for the movie mentioned in the thread title. The fact that Be Kind Rewind (which I saw with my family on 2/24 at Regal Santa Cruz 9) was a superb movie that managed to retain that delightful charm of Michel Gondry (despite being, for all intents and purposes, a straight-up comedy) is not the issue at hand, but rather the relative unoriginality of upcoming film releases (see previous post for enlightenment on the subject).

Surprise movie time!

Never Back Down
Or as I like to call it: “UFC The Movie”. I’d love to make the derivative call on this one for being a blatant promotional film for the Ultimete Faghting Champtionship, but strictly speaking this is more like your standard sports film, unoriginal in every respect except for the precise origin of its script. ORIGINAL, and the main character looks like a reincarnation of Tom Cruise.

Run, Fat Boy, Run
I’m a big fan of Simon Pegg’s work (and work to be?), so this trailer went over well with me. And Hank Azaria?!? Sign me up! I actually saw the teaser originally, which doesn’t convey the plot very well at all, but I fully intended to see it anyway. You all should too, as it appears to be ORIGINAL.

Baby Mama
Whatever reaction I get when I see Simon Pegg onscreen, I get the exact opposite reaction with Tina Fey. She may have gussied herself up a little bit compared to her Saturday Night Live days, but I see through her act. She’s still as smarmy and annoying as ever, and bringing in her SNL friends isn’t going to help any. I was especially depressed to see John Hodgman in this trailer, because I worship the ground he walks on. Apparently his expert con man tactics aren’t paying the bills if he has to make cameos in this dreck. And even though this is approximately the seven trillionth pregnancy antics film released this year, it’s still probably ORIGINAL enough to beat the system.

Get Smart
I have to admit, I wasn’t excited about this movie when I originally heard about it. Maybe I was afraid of them pulling an Inspector Gadget (a fair assumption, since Gadget was very similar to Maxwell Smart and voiced by Don Adams). Luckily, humans evolved the capacity to change their minds, like, hundreds of years ago, and Steve Carell appears to be playing the role splendidly. However, as it probably clear by now, this movie is an ADAPTATION of a television show of the same name. I’ll still probably go see it.

Sex and The City
Ugh. Bleck. Ick. So stupid. Our theater played a TV ad for Lipstick Jungle before the trailers, and the creators were trying to play it up as somehow different from Sex and The City because… it has different actresses in it? All the promotional material I’ve seen for this movie SEQUEL/ADAPTATION seems to be playing off of its success on television, and nothing else. They say trailer, but there’s so little footage that one could only really call it a teaser. I’m a sucker for Chris Noth (apparently he’s dreamy? All I know is that he’s the best detective on Law & Order: Criminal Intent), but don’t expect me to drop the Hamilton come May.

Total: 40% (2/5)

In summary: as of a February 24th screening of Be Kind Rewind at Regal Santa Cruz 9 in Santa Cruz, CA, Hollywood was on track to be 40% unoriginal. Thanks for playing, and please go see Be Kind Rewind at your earliest convenience. Here’s Michel Gondry’s sweded version of the trailer!


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