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The Big Screen Bulletin 04.13.09: The Chocolate Bunny Hangover

April 13, 2009 | Posted by Chad Webb

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Straight to Video Nightmares

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr.

Starring: Josh Flitter, Ann Cusack, and Art LaFleur
Directed By: David M. Evans
Written By: David M. Evans, Jeff Sank, and Justin Heimberg
Release Date: March 3, 2009
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rated PG for some rude humor.

Contrary to the title, I do not look for DTV movies based on how terrible they might be. I usually choose based on the popularity of the name or title, or sometimes because they could be interesting. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr. is one of the worst movies ever made….bar none. How anyone could have made this and approved it for release to the public is baffling. I plan on suggesting this as a way to torture terrorists. It would work, I promise.

After watching only 20 minutes, I had to stop, and run an errand with the fiancée. Whenever I watch a movie without her, I usually tell her what it was and how it was. Quickly into my description of those first 20 minutes, she said “I really wish you would stop talking about this now.” She had not watched one scene, but to hear a summary, I could observe the sheer pain in her face. That is what this movie does. It scars.

The plot follows Ace Jr. who does not remember his father, and has no clue what his profession was. His mother hesitates in telling her son about the “disappearance” of his Dad. The first question I had is: How could Ace have settled for such a boring woman to marry? So Jr. has an obsession with finding lost animals, but he doesn’t know why. Sure. His mother scolds him for doing this so as not lose Jr. like she lost her husband. He does it anyway, and soon a string of pets belonging to students go missing. In all seriousness, one of them has a skunk as a pet. When searching for the skunk, Jr. subdues the wrong one by farting at the skunk so he falls over. Yes, you read that right.

Laura is the girl Jr. has a crush on, and out of nowhere he blurts out “Oh my God you’re pretty!” Yeah, I could never control myself when I was his age. I yelled at girls with similar phrases all the time. Guess how many dates I had. Laura lost her pet fish, yet still has hope it is alive. If my fish was stolen, I would not expect to see it again, let alone alive, but never mind. Jr. tries to find it by gargling water and yelling as a fish would. Yes, that happened. Mother Ventura works at a zoo, and they are housing rare pandas, which are kidnapped. She is framed as the perpetrator; hence Jr. is inevitably on the case to exonerate her.

Here are some random notes about this movie: Jr. eats out of a dog bowl for every meal, and eats the food like a dog would. He also drinks out of the toilet. Trust me. The missing pandas are seen only behind the bushes because they are fake suits, some of the worst fake suits I have ever seen. Roger Corman, on a low budget, managed to utilize an artificial plant as Audrey Jr. in the original Little Shop of Horros that is more believable than these pandas decades later. Jr. wakes up with the Ace hairstyle for no reason. He doesn’t comb it that way, it just appears. While Mother Ventura is in jail, Grandpa Ventura babysits. Yes, some unfortunate old man had his gray hair styled like Ace, and most of his lines are the same catch phrases uttered by Jim Carrey. Grandpa Ventura shows Jr. a scrap book of relatives. Among them: Charles Ventura Darwin and Jacques Ventura Costeau. This also, is true.

I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea, and probably have already clicked elsewhere. A number of action scenes, some of the most agonizing ever constructed, are interweaved with the “riveting” mystery. Jr. and his friends flee from security guards of one building, and escape using….wait for it…..Heely’s. That’s not even the worst part about the scenes. The rest must be seen first hand. Jr. recruits a school nerd for scientific work. His name is A-Plus, and his locker is an entrance to a full underground lab, an area the school forgot about. My God. Eventually, Jr. is told by Grandpa Ventura who his father was, and his mom gives him a key to a chest, one that contains Ace’s outfit. One size fits all apparently. Yes, the same pants, shirt, and glasses. Seeing Josh Flitter wear a wife beater to school is an image that will haunt my dreams for months.

Every memorable line from the theatrical films and every humorous scene are recycled here, as if we needed a reminder every few minutes that this is a sequel to the series Jim Carrey made famous. A song by Tone Loc is even played when Jr. puts on the outfit and struts to school. Just…wow is all I can say. Josh Flitter turns in a performance that is bad on a level that has not been discovered yet. He is only a kid, but he had to know what he was getting himself into. I hope the paycheck was good, little man. Art La Fleur is an officer from Fish & Wildlife, the organization that arrested Mother Ventura, and I guess because LaFleur was in The Sandlot, also directed by David M. Evans, he felt compelled to accept this role. It is embarrassing.

David Mickey Evans began his career with a couple fabulous family films like Radio Flyer and The Sandlot, but quickly got stuck in the B-movie genre, churning out one horrendous sequel after another. At one time, he had potential. How could a bright career go downhill so deeply like this? I cannot think of a reason. Did the studio demand that Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr. be filled with all these references and recycled gags? Why? I think the title is sufficient enough that people will either take a chance or they won’t in renting. Evans has apparently lost all concept of what it takes to craft an enjoyable piece of work. Every scene is excruciating, every performance is off base, and the entire story would be dumb for any age.

I would pay just about any amount to have a one line quote from Jim Carrey on this project. Perhaps he already has commented, but I can’t find it. I recently unearthed an old VHS at my parents house of the Ace Ventura cartoon that was on years ago, and after barely making it through the 30 minute running time, I realized how tragic Ace Ventura’s legacy will be down the road. I was fond of the both films….honest. They were slightly irritating, but I found them amusing. That cartoon, and this sequel, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr. could deliver a fatal blow to the reputation of that series. No one should want to watch this. I’m not sure why I did. I bit off more than I could chew.

Final Rating = 0.0/10.0

The News Bulletin

Hannah is Faster This Weekend
1. Hanna Montana The Movie – $34 million ($34 million)
2. Fast and Furious – $28.7 million ($85 million)
3. Monsters vs. Aliens – $22.6 million ($141 million)
4. Observe and Report – $11.1 million ($11.1 million)
5. Knowing – $6.6 million ($68 million)
6. I Love You, Man- $6.4 million ($58.9 million)
7. The Haunting in Connecticut – $5.7 million ($46.2 million)
8. Dragonball Evolution – $4.6 million ($4.6 million)
9. Adventureland – $3.4 million ($11.4 million)
10. Duplicity – $2.9 million ($36.8 million)

I’m sorry to admit that I’m happy Hannah Montana beat Fast & Furious, but I would take Miley over Diesel any day. It’s the biggest April bow in Disney history, while it’s Friday gross — $17.3 million — is the best opening day showing in history for a live-action G-rated pic. Fast & Furious may not have won the domestic race, but it raced to the top of the international box office chart. More impressive, the film jumped the $200 million mark at the worldwide B.O. in 10 days (previous three sentences from Variety). Observe and Report opened on the lower end of expectations, but it should continue to do well in future weeks. Dragonball suffered a poor debut, which means anime fans didn’t care enough. Adventureland and Duplicity are still hanging on. Next week, look for Zac Efron to steal the top spot from Miley in 17 Again.

Contract Drama Has Scary Future
At long last, SAG’s tortuous, yearlong contract drama with Hollywood’s majors appears to be coming to a close, capping a two-year period of labor unrest that included the trauma of the 100-day writers strike. That should have the biz breathing a sigh of relief, right? Not really. Because even if all goes well with the new regime at SAG and a handshake deal is finally reached this month, there’s little respite in sight for the studios: The WGA and Directors Guild of America contracts come up for negotiation again in mid-2011, which means the jockeying will begin this time next year, if not sooner.

“The studios usually buy themselves three years of peace with new contracts, but not this time,” says Jonathan Handel, an attorney with TroyGould who writes frequently on labor issues for the Huffington Post. The question of the expiration date for SAG’s next contract has been the final hurdle for the thesps and studios. The signs are pointing to a compromise that would allow SAG to keep in line with the WGA and DGA and maintain its June 30, 2011, expiration date, rather than three years after a new pact is ratified, which probably won’t be until May at the earliest. (In exchange, SAG is expected to settle its claims to an estimated $50 million in force majeure coin owed to actors from the WGA strike-induced shutdown of TV skeins.)

The turmoil that has rocked the town ever since the writers and studios began sparring in 2007 stands in sharp contrast to the nearly 20 years of relative calm for the studios and the guilds in the wake of the five-month WGA strike in 1988. The painful memory of that disastrous work stoppage helped spur the sides to contract compromises “for the sake of the business” for years. There’s sure to be more dickering in the 2011 round of negotiations over the compensation formulas that were hard-fought in the 2008 DGA and WGA contracts (the same template that SAG is poised to embrace). Already, the WGA has grievances pending in a dispute over the interpretation of a key point of compensation terms for paid downloads.

The added pressure of the world economy’s gyrations will only complicate the next round of negotiations. In the face of slumping markets, Hollywood’s major players are generally cutting back on the volume of movies and scripted TV skeins — further tightening the job market (and residuals-earning potential) for WGA, DGA and SAG members. Another nerve-rattling issue looming over the next set of contract talks is the state of the guilds’ pension and health funds, which have been battered by stock market swings and health-care cost spikes. SAG disclosed that the value of its pension plan sank nearly 23% last year; the DGA’s basic pension plan sank nearly 27%. (The WGA’s plan has yet to disclose its figures for 2008.) While new media is sure to remain a lightning rod, the fire next time could be over a cash influx to shore up the guilds’ ability to care for their elderly and infirm.

Every time I read about contract negotiations in Hollywood now, I think of the South Park episode Canada On Strike, which had a hilarious commentary track from Parker and Stone. They said, “If anyone would have been stupid enough to try the same thing as WGA, it would be SAG.” The fact is, with the state of the country as it is, neither side will be completely satisfied, no matter what the organization is, and they all need to realize this. The WGA and SAG will not get everything they desire, so deal with it. Corners must be cut, paychecks must be a bit lower, and that’s that. Now that the studios won’t have as much time to rest before a new batch of negotiations, one has to feel a bit sorry for them. Ehhh…maybe not. These ordeals have greatly affected the industry, in almost every way possible, and to have contracts expire so quickly after they were settled will only make things worse.

Sin City Updates
An online rumor that Dimension Films has let the film rights for Sin City 2 expire has turned out to be false. Details apparently emerged that the movie would be financed by a private equity group and an announcement is expected soon. Robert Rodriguez’s Trouble Maker studios was still attached to produce. Now, MTV News has debunked the story with an official statement from The Weinstein Company attorney Bert Fields: “TWC’s rights to produce sequels to Sin City remain intact as they always have been. Any suggestion to the contrary is complete hogwash.”

According to Moviehole, the rumors of Angelina Jolie playing Ava Lord in Sin City 2 are heating up once again. Moviehole states that according to a “high profile producer”, Jolie is now is serious talks to star in the film. The character of Ava Lord is based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, “A Dame to Kill For.” Ava Lord is an ex-lover of Dwight McCarthy, and she controls men through her good looks and “supposed” innocence.

This was an odd rumor. How it even got started is my question. It’s not like a casting rumor that turned out to be false. They happen all the time. Someone must have misinterpreted a conversation they overheard in the office, or perhaps some lowly Weinstein employee started the rumor because they’re bored. It appears that the Weinstein’s rights are not in jeopardy, but regardless, I think they have waited too long for a sequel. The anticipation has worn off, and we have endured The Spirit since then, which brings that filmmaking style into a whole new light. I think they should just trash the idea of a sequel personally. It will not live up to expectations unless all of the original elements click together, and that will be mighty tough. On the Jolie casting, take it with a grain of salt. Every so often she is rumored for a different project. She is perfect for the role, but people need to understand that nothing is happening with Sin City 2 at the moment.

“Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy director Gore Verbinski will not helm the upcoming fourth installment in the series according to Variety. Verbinski has informed ‘Pirates’ producer Jerry Bruckheimer of the news, and instead will focus on other projects. Chief amongst these is the Universal Pictures adaptation of the bestselling video game “Bioshock” which John Logan scripted as is expected to Verbinski’s next feature. A fourth ‘Pirates’ film is expected to go into production next year with Johnny Depp back as Captain Jack Sparrow. The project has yet to be greenlit however and Verbinski’s departure may affect that schedule. Verbinski and Depp will still work together on Paramount’s CG-animated film “Rango” in which Depp voices the title character. That film opens March 2011.

We all remember how the trilogy concluded, with Jack Sparrow sailing off potentially into more adventures. The Back to the Future trilogy ended on a similar note, with Doc Brown’s family in the locomotive time machine flying off to an undisclosed time period. They could have made more films, but didn’t. This was wise. Disney needs to go out on a positive note with the Pirates franchise also. Just because Sparrow was seen sailing off, doesn’t mean another sequel is mandatory. As George Sirois stated on the podcast, they need to close the door on this. Verbinski is a capable director that should be working on other films, whether it be Rango or Bioshock. He is also rumored for a spot in the Heavy Metal redux.

A Strong Cast for Clash
Liam Neeson is set and Ralph Fiennes is in negotiations to play warring gods in Warner Bros. and Legendary’s remake of 80’s Greek mythology classic “Clash of the Titans” says The Hollywood Reporter. Neeson is playing Zeus, the wise yet sometimes ill-tempered king of the gods and father of Perseus (Sam Worthington). Laurence Olivier played Zeus in the original. Fiennes will play Hades, ruler of the underworld who aims to overtake Zeus and rule over all. Hades did not appear in the original film. Mads Mikkelsen, Gemma Arterton and Alexa Davalos also star. Louis Leterrier (:The Incredible Hulk”) helms the sword & sandal actioneer which kicks off filming in the UK later this month.

I own and enjoy the confident cheesiness of the 1981 original, and this casting is certainly heading down a bright path, but what worries me is Hollywood’s tendency to focus on special effects and CGI for remakes instead of crafting another exciting film. Neeson and Fiennes are terrific performers, and almost always supply their A-game, but there is more to a remake than just acting. Topping the utter coolness of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects contribution will be difficult. I am intrigued that Louis Leterrier is on board as director since his resume is not been all that spectacular thus far. He does have talent, and churning a solid remake would be a nice notch in his belt. Having Le Chiffre and Strawberry Fields attached sounds fun as well. This looks like it could be better than the average remake, but it is too early to tell for sure.

MPAA Refusing to Back Down on Rating
The MPAA’s Classification and Rating Appeals Board upheld the R rating given to the upcoming comedy “Year One” says The Hollywood Reporter. Producer Judd Apatow and director/co-writer Harold Ramis appeared before the board to argue for a more lenient rating for the comedy that stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as a couple of barely-out-of-the-cave men who travel through the ancient world. But the appeals board still elected to keep the R rating for “some sexual content and language.” A June 19th release is still planned. *EDIT* – In an attempt to get it the sought-after PG-13 rating, the fimmakers have re-cut the film and re-presented it the MPAA, finally resulting in them granting the PG-13 label.

This is a surprise, and the loss will greatly affect the box office turnout. I mean, let’s face it, the audience that buys tickets will be largely over 18, but a hefty chunk of them will not be, and they will be forced to sneak in, unless you count the theaters which never card kids (of which there are plenty). I was indifferent about Year One until now. The story looked bizarre and kind of dumb, but this rating has me wanting to see it more. Obviously no one knows whether or not the MPAA was correct in their decision, but they have been wrong many times in the past. We shall see.

The 20 Second Sermon

Sam Raimi says that no plans exist to shoot back to back sequels of Spider-Man 4 & 5 right now. I wouldn’t see the point in doing that at this stage of the franchise. The crew needs to be careful and cautious with the fourth installment, and hope that rejuvenates fans hopes. The idea for a Silent Hill sequel is being kicked around. Although it was one of the better video game adaptations, it was still bad, so I say no to a follow-up. Gary Oldman is not involved with Iron Man 2 despite reports to the contrary. Why is everyone so damned concerned about who plays Tony Stark’s father? Give it a rest. They’ll get someone. Sony moving forward with its “Spider-Man” spinoff movie focusing on Venom with scribes Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese. However, they are sworn to secrecy. Yeah, who cares? Kent Alterman (Semi-Pro) is attached to direct the adult Goonies-esque adventure feature Treehouse Gang. I am more in favor of a separate film that is similar to the Goonies than I am that crappy sequel idea that gets pitched every few years or so. Brittany Murphy and David Zayas have joined the cast of Sylvester Stallone’s action-adventure The Expendables. If Murphy only hops around and smiles, her performance would top-notch.

What’s Coming to DVD….Buy or Avoid?

DVD Headline of the Week

The Reader – Director Stephen Daldry helms a stirring, emotional, and bravura adaptation about weakness, truth, and confronting embarrassment. Kate Winslet, David Kross, and Ralph Fiennes are terrific, and the story went way beyond my initial expectations. Buyable

The Spirit – Frank Miller hits bottom with this mess of a film that tries to be funny, while simultaneously ripping off Sin City and Batman & Robin. The acting is terrible, the coloring is a mess, and most of the story made no sense. Miller should take this as a lesson. Trashable

House of Saddam – I am greatly interested in watching this mini-series from HBO, but currently my Netflix queue has a number of mini-series’ (King, George Wallace, Brideshead Revisited), so this will have to wait in line.

Dark Matter – Here is a rarity: a Meryl Streep film that went virtually unnoticed in theaters, and will probably receive an equal reception on DVD. I wouldn’t mind seeing it though.

My Best Friend’s a Vampire (The Lost Collection) – Lionsgate is releasing a bunch of “lost collection” B-movie flicks on DVD, most of which I have not seen. This one has a string of 5 star reviews from Amazon members. Other lost titles include: Slaughter High, Night Before, Hiding Out, Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home, Repossessed, and Irreconcilable Differences.

WWE: Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 90’s – I really don’t buy the more mainstream WWE sets because I have most of the matches elsewhere, but this does have a random Flair vs. Hogan encounter I’d like to see.

Splinter – This is about a couple who get attacked in the woods by an escaped convict. Dullsville. It stars two people no one has heard of.

TNA: Jeff Jarrett – King of the Mountain – A four-disc set for this guy? Holy crap. I am not a Jarrett fan by a long shot, so I’ll be staying away from this one.

The Caller – This is yet another film with acclaimed stars that flew under the radar. It follows Frank Langella as a senior VP of a corporation setting up his own assassination. Ehhh.

North Star – To continue the weird movies with weird casts trend this week, this is an Alaskan wilderness mining story with Christopher Lambert, Burt Young, and James Caan. Yay.

The Critic’s Quickee

Fast & Furious – I must preach for a moment first. I think we can all sympathize with feelings and urges we get after watching certain movies or shows (especially when we were young). After an action movie or a wrestling match, we might horse around with our family or friends because we have that added energy. The consequences might be some bumps and bruises. When people watch Fast & Furious however, they get in their cars and bolt down the highway as if they own the road. The first race sequence proves my point. Cars speed through the streets weaving in and out of crowded traffic. This is staged so meticulously so that most of the accidents that occur only involve the racers. This is not real life, and it can kill people. I hate what this franchise promotes and what it stands for. Having said all that, even if those things did not bother me, a spade is a spade, and I know a bad movie when I see one, and deep down, no matter how much fans of this series say it was meant to please only them, they know it’s bad too.

The script from Chris Morgan uses cringe inducing dialogue, and the acting makes it worse. Paul Walker is back as Agent Brian O’Connor, who after everything has done, is still fully employed with no hassle. And once again a case calls for him to street race undercover. What is the case connection? Drugs. I mean, are they serious? Only drugs? And after all that racing you can’t tell me no one on the west coast street racing circuit wouldn’t immediately recognize O’Connor. His character breaks so many rules that go seemingly unpunished that it makes Dirty Harry look like a Saint by comparison. You also have big daddy Vin Diesel as Dominic Torretto, and I love that he had the ability to recreate events that he wasn’t around for, in his head. He unleashed lines like: “I’m one of those guys who appreciates a fine body regardless of the make.” When further describing the type of female he likes, he says “20% angel and 80% devil.” Give me a break.

Director Justin Lin did have a solid debut with A Better Tomorrow, but has since trashed his reputation with this franchise. He also stood at the helm for Tokyo Drift, and I love the brief reference to that film. Credit goes to Jeremy Thomas for reminding me that this film takes place before Tokyo Drift, but nonetheless, the Asian guy talks about getting ready to do some “crazy shit in Tokyo.” Whew. I feel better knowing that line is what propels Dom to travel there. That “crazy shit” is too tempting. And you can’t convince me a major drug cartel would risk moving the product across borders using flashy cars that are bull’s-eyes for cops. Like everything else here, it makes no sense. The action is overblown and repetitive. Give me Vanishing Point or To Live and Die in L.A. over this junk any day of the week. Aside from the ludicrous revenge plot, you also have loads of computer graphics inserted solely for distraction purposes. Nos must be happy as a sponsor since they are in more than half the scenes of the movie for no reason. I agree that a lack of realism is ok in movies, but there is a limit when the goal is to appear grounded in reality, and this does not just cross that line, but jumps over. I hated this. Final Rating = 2.5/10.0

What Have I Done?

Monday – I bought and listened to the Dennis Wilson solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue on this day. As a huge Beach Boy fan, especially Brian Wilson’s solo material, this is arguably the finest solo effort from a Beach Boy. I am amazed that this is not praised more often because it is extraordinary. The set I have includes the lost album Caribou as well. To any music buff reading this, take the time to seek this out because it is amazing, so much so that it would make my top 100 album list.

Tuesday – A friend and I took a chance on a new energy drink distributed by the Dr. Pepper company, called Venom, specifically the Black Mamba flavor, which has an astounding 250-500 grams of caffeine (Mountain Dew has 28 grams). Aside from the energy boost and sudden desire to watch Bruce Lee kung fu flicks, the beverage was overly sweet and eventually tough to finish off. Unless you love energy drinks, and can handle this much caffeine (the label had a warning advisory), I would stay away from this.

Wednesday – Last year I received the Houdini: The Movie Star box set from Kino as a gift, and finally, I finished it. All of the surviving footage from his silent film career in available, including the titles: The Master Mystery, Terror Island, The Man from Beyond, Haldane of the Secret Service, and a 5 minute clip from The Grim Game showcasing an actual plan collision in which everyone lived. The Master Mystery was the most entertaining (although it was a serial) because it exposed Houdini’s talents best. The rest were just ok and worth looking at for history purposes. The extras were terrific as well. If you enjoy Houdini as much as I do, pick this up.

Thursday – I read through the 4 issue series crossover of Robocop vs. Terminator, and flew through it. It was very silly, but fun, and it cites Robo as the reason Skynet is able to take over, which was intriguing. The end made me laugh as an army of Robocops fight an army of Terminators. Only in the comics would this happen. Frank Miller wrote this, and provided some cool dialogue. Don’t expect this to be made into a movie anytime soon though.

The Weekend – This weekend I drove home to PA for some time with family and friends during the holidays, which was nice. I had the chance to see one of my good buddies, and help him alphabetize his DVD collection, which rivals mine in quantity if you can believe that. He also had a DVD burner and something called light scribe that etches the artwork of the disc onto certain DVDs. I hadn’t known that existed until then. Anyway, on those random notes, I hope everyone that celebrates it had a happy Easter!

Based on the Trailer…

Note that some links require you to scroll down a menu below the trailer screen. This is Yahoo’s fault most likely.

Newest Trailers

How To Be – Robert Pattison is a fine actor, and this indy comedy looks to be a suitable fit for him. The trailer provides some laughs, and it might be a solid movie overall, though I’m not sure about his singing. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Is Anybody There? – Michael Caine and Bill Milner (Son of Rambow) star in this dramedy about a 10 year-old obsessed with ghosts and afterlife. It could be a nice movie, but I’m not sure how wide it will open. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

April Releases

Lymelife – This film cries independent, but it does look amusing, even if it is another dysfunctional family drama of sorts. With Kieran and Rory Culkin in the cast, I highly expected to see Macaulay, but did not. Trailer Rating =

The Informers – This has an odd cast, but looks somewhat lame if you ask me. The book might be fantastic, but this trailer failed to stand out for me. It’s about a bunch of people that party a lot or something. It is also Renfro’s last film. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

17 Again = Matthew Perry and Zac Efron play the same character at different ages. Sure…whatever. These storylines are getting old. Efron is a tool and this movie looks terrible. Of course it will be a smash hit. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0

The SoloistAtonement’ Joe Wright changes his British period drama material for something new. This looks a bit like Resurrecting the Champ, only with better actors. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Crank 2: High Voltage – This sequel looks ridiculous, preposterous, and over the top…all reasons I can’t wait to see it. Statham is a solid action star, but better when comedy is mixed in. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Earth – A new documentary from the Disneynature series, narrated by James Earl Jones. This has some gorgeous visuals, and hopefully will be more entertaining than March of the Penguins. If anyone can out-narrate Morgan Freeman, it is James Earl Jones. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

State of Play – As this preview starts, it seems like just another thriller with Russell Crowe, but the A-list cast on top of him causes one’s interest to rise. I’ll be seeing this one for sure. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Fighting – This could be an easy contender for worst film of 2009. I stars Channing Tatum, and looks to be a rip-off of like 10 other films. The title alone should say a lot right? Trailer Rating = 1.0/10.0

May Releases

Battle for Terra – Here is another example of simply taking a lot of popular names, placing them in a CGI flick, and hoping for the best. I admit, the animation looks impressive, and it will probably eye-opening in 3D, but this strikes me as this year’s Delgo. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0

Dance Flick – This Wayan parody trailer does what most parody trailers do: make you chuckle. But we all know the film will be a disaster. Well, some of us do. The others still see this sludge. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

The Limits of Control – The new film from Jim Jarmusch looks quite excellent after this first glance. I’m sure this will be slapped with a limited release, but I’ll be seeing it anyway I can. The cast looks brilliant with Tilda Swinton, Gael Garcia Bernal, John Hurt, and more. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Rudo Y Cursi – This Sundance selection was directed by Carlos Cuaron, and it reunites Y Tu Mama Tambien stars Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. Both are magnificent performers, so I’ll be buying a ticket for this comedy for sure. It follows two brothers with aspiring dreams of fame, and involves soccer. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Up – Pixar’s next flick looks like another funny, endearing, and funfilled adventure. At least we can rely on them for originality. I’ll definitely be seeing this. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – It’s a Matthew McConaughey romcom set for summer alongside a blockbuster. Aren’t they al basically the same? This one looks as dumb as the rest. Trailer Rating = 3.0/10.0

Terminator Salvation – I love Christian Bale, and the Terminator franchise, but I have serious doubts about this. I believe it will be terrible, but I must admit, this teaser was well constructed. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Star Trek XI – The teaser was superbly placed before Cloverfield, and this causes me to be amped for the next installment despite my doubts about the cast. I hope it’s as good as we deserve. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Drag Me to Hell – Sam Raimi’s next film is a return to horror, and thank God! This is straight horror, without comedy from the looks of it, so it will be more in the vein of The Evil Dead I. Alison Lohman should provide the thrills here as well. I can’t wait. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

X-Men Origins: Wolverine – I am undecided on this one. I think Gavin Hood is an excellent director, and I have faith in his talent, but the rest is a mixed bag, especially the first glimpse at Gambit, but that’s my opinion. Otherwise, this looks to be heavy on action, which could be good or bad. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian – I realize the first one was a mammoth blockbuster hit, but it sucked, and this looks just as terrible, I don’t care if Amy Adams and Jonah Hill are involved. Trailer Rating = 3.5/10.0

Angels & DemonsThe Da Vinci Code was a superb thriller, and this looks to be outstanding as well. This teaser has me amped for Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon again! Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Angels & Demons (2) – These stories are what they are. If you enjoy Indiana Jones, National Treasure type stuff, you’ll like this. I loved the first film, and my fondness for Tom Hanks is widely known, so I’ll be there opening night for this. This longer trailer sheds a bit of light. This looks to be a bit darker in tone. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

June Releases

The Taking of Pelham 123 – The new film by Tony Scott, starring his buddy Denzel, John Travolta, and James Gandolfini. Can Tony dust himself off from the decline his career has taken? Travolta makes a neat villain, so only time will tell. This thriller seems mediocre to me at first glance. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

The Proposal – This is an example of a romantic comedy I loathe. Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are the stars. Yay. Watch this preview and tell me you cannot predict how this ends. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Year One (Super Bowl spot) – Jack Black and Michael Cera are hunter-gatherers set in the ancient world. This looks mildly amusing. Both actors should provide the laughs. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Away We Go – I saw the name of Sam Mendes, and thought for sure he would be a producer, but no, he is directing this summer comedy, which looks to be a nice little tangent for him. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph look to be delivering superb performances, so I’m intrigued. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

My Life in Ruins – So Nia Vardalos basically takes a break for 5 years or so, until someone has a new Greece related project for her. This is the result, and Richard Dreyfuss is in it? Why? Can he get no other deals? Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Super Bowl spot) – I was little late with this one, but it’s too early to tell how good or bad this will be anyhow. I’m betting it’s more bad than good. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – During the first few seconds, I thought I had clicked on the trailer for Armageddon. I see robots, explosions, and the LaBeoufster. Other than that, what is happening is anyone’s guess. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Imagine That – Eddie Murphy delivers another bland looking comedy vehicle. Like anything he stars in lately, it will probably suck. This strikes me as close to Liar Liar, but oh well. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

July, TBD, and Beyond Releases

Bruno – This is the red band trailer. It looks really funny, and I’ll definitely be seeing it, but I do question the legitimacy of the “real situations” they display. We all heard the rumors after Borat. Regardless, Cohen is hilarious. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

G-Force – Is Disney greenlighting anything that can be 3-D now? They also seem to love talking animals. This looks so gigantically awful. Will Arnett is in this, and that makes me sad. Wow. Trailer Rating = 1.0/10.0

Orphan – Well, if there is a chance of Vera Farmiga nudity, I’m there, and Peter Sarsgaard is cool, but this looks like The Omen with a girl character instead of Damien. In other words, this evil child outline needs to have a break. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Planet 51 – This could be a fairly amusing CGI film. The animation looks nice, but this has few voices, and no real clue as to how funny it will be. I am still unsure, but it might be good, and it might not. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

G.I. Joe (Super Bowl spot) – Oh my Lord. This looks ten thousand ways of awful. I cannot believe that the cartoon I watched as a child, has been adapted in this way. Holy schnikes. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0

Land of the Lost (Super Bowl spot) – Will Ferrell is funny, but that is an excuse I am having trouble using as time goes along. This looks like the CGI is overwhelming everything. I’ll see it, but my expectations are not high. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Taking Woodstock – If this wasn’t directed by Ang Lee, I would probably not be interested, but it is, so I’ll be seeing it for only that reason. I must agree with Mr. Luers and say this looks like Ang Lee’s Almost Famous. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

Where the Wild Things Are – I know this production had loads of trouble, but this looks outstanding by the trailer. I can’t wait to see it. The creatures look good and Spike Jonze usually doesn’t disappoint. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Public Enemies – This is my type of film. You have Michael Mann, Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and a bunch of tommy guns. I am so there. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

S. Darko – I can’t help but laugh. This will be a huge pile of junk, and since I HATED the first one, I can only hope that this ruins its overrated reputation. Trailer Rating = 3.0/10.0

The Slammin’ Salmon – The new Broken Lizard comedy starring the usual group of guys and Michael Clarke Duncan, who steals this red-band trailer. I love the comedies from this clan, so I will be seeing it. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Fame – This looks…..just like every other dance flick we’ve seen in the past decade, only this is a musical. Yay. The Wayans are parodying movies likes this for goodness sakes! This is a skip it, and I’m not talking about the girl toy from the 90’s. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0

Powder Blue – It stars Jessica Biel as a stripper, and includes Ray Liotta. Need I say more? Trailer Rating = 11/10

9 – This looks amazing, and the song in the background only makes me want to see it more. This will be a mighty tough year for Pixar to reign supreme in. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Boat that Rocked – I love music, so this is right up my alley. It’s about a radio station on a boat, one that helped give rock music to the world. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Funny People – The new dramedy from Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and others. This looks very funny and touching at the same time, and that’s what Apatow does best. I hope this can salvage what if left of Sandler’s dignity. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Inglorious Basterds – Many expressed disappointment with this, but it is a WWII film from Tarantino, so what were you expecting? I think it looks awesome. I can’t wait to see it! Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Perfect Game – Though I’m not a baseball fan, I always enjoy watching the Little League World Series. The problem with this film, despite a bad title, is that the preview reveals way too much, so hopefully it has more going for it besides the story, which I’m sure is inspirational. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

New York, I Love You – The first film, Paris, Je T’aime was one of the best films in recent memory that few knew about. So I am very excited about this second installment. The cast and directors look amazing. It should be a terrific experience. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – This was a great book, the darkest of the set, and this trailer rocks. I’m anxious to see this. The franchise has not decreased in quality, and here’s hoping this continues that trend. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2) – Yes, I am a bit skeptical of the director, but this looks very good. This teaser gave me hope that Yates knows what he’s doing. The comedy part at the end was terrific. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Other Stuff to Read

The Best Movies of the Alphabet
The Best and Worst Bond Films.
411 April Roundtable – This month Owain J. Brimfield continues as roundtable host and compiles the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the releases for April!
The MeeThinks Friday FreeThinks – Thanks again to John Meehan for providing my banner here, and for the Alphabet feature.

Also, keep an eye out for more comic book character timelines in the future. Here are the first two:

The Ultimate Batman Timeline
The Ultimate Daredevil Timeline

411 My Space!
The 411 Wrestling Zone
The 411 Music Zone
The 411 Politics Zone
The 411 Games Zone
The 411 Sports Zone
The 411 MMA Zone

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