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The Big Screen Bulletin 06.29.09: Monster Bashing My Head In

June 29, 2009 | Posted by Chad Webb

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Nether Regions

Nether Regions will be on ongoing segment of the Bulletin that showcases film that have been discontinued on DVD, are out of print in the United States, are only available in certain regions outside the United States, or are generally hard to find. You might ask “Why should I care about a film I have no access to?” My goal is to keep these films relevant because some of them genuinely deserve to be recognized. Every time I review a new film I will have a list of those I covered below so you can see if they have been announced for DVD release, or are still out of print.


The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1998-TV)

Starring: Vincent D’Onofrio, Edward James Olmos, and Lorraine Bracco
Written/Directed By: Felix Enriquez Alcala
Theatrical Release Date: February 1, 1998
Missing Since: It aired on TV
Existing Formats: Bootlegs if you can find them
Netflix Status: Not Available
Availability: As limited as possible

Now that Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 has hit theaters and raked in a substantial amount of money, many will seek out the original 1974 film starring Robert Shaw and Walter Matthau. That was an exceedingly satisfying thriller laced with good-natured comedy. This year’s remake was faithful enough, yet altered enough that it was much better than it had a right to be. But John Godey’s novel was adapted three times, and the second occured in 1998 as a made-for-TV film.

The story remains the same. A group of 4 terrorists hijack a New York City subway train, hold a bunch of civilians hostage, and demand $5 million in cash or they will… know the drill by now. The story has not changed in this one. As a matter of fact, it is exactly the same except for a few omissions. The terrorists still have the color names that Tarantino borrowed for Reservoir Dogs.

The omissions I mentioned pretty much prevents this movie from being close to adequate. The comedy that Matthau instilled to the original, and that Travolta added to his exaggerated villain is nowhere to be found here. Every character plays the material incredibly straightforward and entirely too serious. That is the only reason this story was entertaining at all. Without the humor, it is mediocre at best. The other deletion is the action, blood, or any type of thrill. Anything that might have pushed the envelope for gentle television viewers was not included.

The head terrorist, Mr. Blue, is portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, and if you took Detective Robert Gorenfrom Law & Order: Criminal Intent and turned him into a bad guy, you would have Mr. Blue here. D’Onofrio does not speak too much, and keeps the radio conversations limited to what is necessary. This also was an intriguing aspect of the films, but the dialogue in this version is dull with a capital D. Edward James Olmos is Detective Anthony Piscotti (a.k.a. the dispatcher), and it is unclear whether he is working at the subway dispatch office, working as a detective, or both. Needless to say, Olmos can do nothing with the blandness of the screenplay. The manner in which he and assistant Detective Ray (depicted by Lorraine Bracco from The Sopranos) arrive at conclusions is laughable. Take one line for instance. The two of them realize that Mr. Blue found a way to keep the train running with no operator. All of a sudden they burst out, “He beat the dead man’s feature! He beat the dead man’s feature!” Lame, but maybe you have to see it to understand.

You also have New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg as Mr. Grey, the creepy dude who hits on the blonde hostage, and who chews his gum as obnoxiously as possible. This was way before the Saw franchise where Wahlberg had the opportunity to hone his acting and develop his skills. Richard Schiff from The West Wing is Mr. Green, and Tara Rosling is Mr. Brown, which is bizarre since she is not a mister at all. Why no hostage thought to ask why she is not “Mrs. Brown” is beyond me.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is directed by Felix Enriquez Alcala, whose resume is 90% packed with TV episodes he stood at the helm for, but he also gave us Steven Seagal’s oddest thriller, Fire Down Below, which I think I’ve seen 100 times since it is on TV every damn day. The style here is extremely dark and murky with no energy or flavor at all. The special effects were the main reason for doing this again, but besides a motion sensor screen the terrorists look at every 10 seconds, the effects are not much different than the original. Every crucial plot turn or twist is rushed, and the Mayor is nowhere to be found. Instead, a couple of the Mayor’s stooges stand around and bitch about the situation, while Lorraine Bracco just stands around echoing Olmos.

This is not a remake I would recommend going out of your way to find unless you are obsessed with the book, and are a completist at heart. I stumbled across a site that offered it as a DVD-R and decided to take advantage since I knew the Tony Scott update was on the way. Apparently this TV remake is more faithful to the source than the others, but regardless, it is still a surefire cure for insomnia. The commercial breaks have been cut out of my DVD-R, but you can tell where they were. This is not worthy of a DVD release on its own, but I see no reason why it can’t be added to a future DVD of the more popular versions. The Maltese Falcon DVD included 2 other film versions of the story. Oh well, I say stay away from this one.

Final Rating = 4.5/10.0


The Heartbreak Kid – Still OOP
Homicide – Available from Criterion on 9/8/09

The News Bulletin

Transforming the Box Office
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $112 million ($201.2 million)
2. The Proposal – $18.4 million ($69 million)
3. The Hangover – $17.2 million ($183.2 million)
4. Up – $13 million ($250.2 million)
5. My Sister’s Keeper – $12 million ($12 million)
6. Year One – $5.8 million ($32 million)
7. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – $5.4 million ($53 million)
8. Star Trek – $3.6 million ($246.2 million)
9. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – $3.5 million ($163.2 million)
10. Away We Go – $1.6 million ($4 million)

Expectedly, Transformers 2 broke records, and I think this huge initial showing is good, since dismal reviews will hurt it in weeks to come. I am amazed that My Sister’s Keeper made the top 5. No matter what anyone says, it did not get enough publicity, and therefore The Proposal acted as the counter programming for Transformers 2. Star Trek and Night at the Museum 2 are the main veteran holdovers, which are about to bow out from the top 10. Year One is of course dropping fast with The Taking of Pelham 123 possessing safe numbers. I am glad to see Away We Go entering the top 10, even though I haven’t seen it yet. Although Transformers 2 is strong this week, next week it should take a back seat to Ice Age 3, with Public Enemies giving a solid showing as well.

Snyder Updates
Out doing promotion for the upcoming “Watchmen” and “300: Complete Experience” DVD and Blu-ray release, Zack Snyder sat down with Coming Soon to talk about a potential follow-up to the 2007 Spartan epic. “I know for a fact that Frank [Miller] is writing right now. [He’s] drawing away and seems to be knee-deep in it. I think he’s going to head back to Greece again and do another reconnaissance.” Snyder says he doesn’t expect much to change from the first film in regards to the sequel’s making so the budget will be kept in check – “I think we would use the same technology… I don’t want it to look too Star Wars-ian… Just from what [Miller] told me, it would be bigger as far as landscape and terrain. We’re going to see Athens and the Aegean and other places. There would be an opportunity for bigger visions, though I’d hope for the same aesthetic. The tech we used for ‘300’ was not a revolution. It’s basically what the weatherman has.” recently spoke with Zack Snyder, discussing the Blu-Ray features theatrical release of the Director’s Cut of Watchmen, here are the highlights:
On The Director’s Cut Getting a Theatrical Release: It is, actually. The weekend before Comic-Con which, I think we determined, is the 17th. It will be at a theater in L.A., one in New York, one in Dallas and one in Minneapolis. It’s a Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

On the Release of The Ultimate Edition In December: I don’t know. There’s this version that’s coming out that’s my cut and then the version that comes out at Christmas is basically “The Black Freighter” version which is probably a much-simpler giant movie release but without the walk-ons and everything. It’ll be the only way to see that version of the movie. So if you’re a fan of the complete experience, you’ll have a chance to see it.
-From Dark Horizons and Superherohype

I’m anxious too see what Miller and Snyder come up with for a 300 sequel, but I fail to see how it is a “sequel” at all, rather than just another story in the same universe, or a spin-off or something. It will not be easy to pull another story off. I’m glad I put off buying 300 on DVD until now. More and more double-dips have been released, and with the announcement of “The Complete Experience”, I’ll probably bite then. As for Watchmen, my opinion of the theatrical version has changed significantly, and while I’m intrigued by the director’s cut, the ultimate edition strikes me as the best version of the film, especially if you are a purist. I’ll probably try to watch the director’s cut at some point, but will leave my purchase for the “Ultimate Edition.” Good to see that the director’s cut is getting a theatrical release though.

From 5 to 10
The next Oscars derby will be more heated – and crowded. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences just announced that the best-picture race will now include 10 contenders instead of five. Between 1932 and 1943, that Oscars category usually spanned 10 films, but then switched to just five for the year covering movies released in 1944. The most famous top 10 back then was the impressive list for 1939 when “Gone With the Wind” claimed the prize. The other nine notable nominees: “Dark Victory,” “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” “Love Affair,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Ninotchka,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Stagecoach,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Wuthering Heights.” In 1931-32, there were eight nominees and in 1934 and 1935 there were 12 contenders. The last time there were 10 nominees “Casablanca” won best picture of 1943.

“After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year,” said academy President Sid Ganis. “The final outcome, of course, will be the same – one Best Picture winner – but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009. “Having 10 best picture nominees is going [to] allow academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize, Ganis added. “I can’t wait to see what that list of ten looks like when the nominees are announced in February.” Nominations will be announced Feb. 2. Other film-award organizations announce top 10 lists these days, including the National Board of Review, Critics Choice Awards and the American Film Institute. The Golden Globes have traditionally nominated 10 best pictures, five in the drama race, five in the comedy/musical classification. The Oscars are also following the lead of the Emmys, which announced earlier this year that the number of nominees for many categories will expand to six from the usual five: best comedy and drama series plus the races for lead and supporting series actors.

This is a news bit from Mr. Erik Luers, and he is not pleased with it. He said this makes the nominated less important. I certainly understand where he’s coming from, but I disagree. I think by saying that it gives the impression that you agreed with how the Academy was running things before, and had little problem with most of the nominees up until now. Every year we complain about what is nominated. Every year we wish certain films would have gotten recognized. This could be the chance to see that. The article talks about how 10 nominees were chosen in the past. What about when Gone with the Wind won? Is The Wizard of Oz less important? Is Stagecoach? I think this will vary depending on how good that year’s films are. Let’s think like critics and other movie writers for a moment. Our goal is to praise or bash films so others go see or do not see them. This 10 nominee change will give more movies a chance to be recognized by the public. Remember, many moviegoers will only take risks on unknown film if they are nominated. If 10 are nominated, they will see more. I read the comments on 411’s news bit, and many said “Well now we have 8 that will not stand a chance instead of 3.” This is simply ridiculous. Only one can win. That’s like watching a race, and getting pissed when someone wins and saying “Damn all those other people lost and it means nothing.” It means something, they were nominated.

I do agree that I’m sure this decision was at least a little bit made to make up for The Dark Knight getting shafted, but we can only assume that. Maybe this means they will change. Also, think about this. Every year critics make top 10 lists, showcasing what we think the top 10 films of the year are. So when the Academy does the same thing, it means their picks mean less? How can that be true? This could be a really great idea if they do it right. If we see some animated films thrown in, if we see some comedies thrown in, and if we see some foreign films thrown in, I am all for this idea, and I would say if you think including films like that is a bad idea, then I think that view is a bit narrow minded. If we all love movies, logically we would be happy to see more recognized. If they just slap on 5 more dramas, then I think this idea sucks. So yeah, we should see Up nominated, and it deserves to be. This could also make everyone’s picks more interesting. It leaves more room for error, which in Leonard’s case wouldn’t matter since he loses regularly anyway. I think many will have an initial reaction to tear this idea apart because the Academy makes a lot of bad decisions, but this isn’t. The point is, sometimes a critic’s word is not sufficient to persuade others to see a film. But a Best Picture nomination could be, and if that’s what it takes to get people to see braver films, and show studios that we need them to take chances instead of greenlighting so many remakes and stupid projects, then I say this is a superb idea.

Release Date Changes!!!
Sorority Row
The Summit Entertainment horror remake has moved up three weeks from October 2nd 2009 to September 11th.

The Overture Films sci-fi thriller starring Dennis Quiad and Ben Foster has moved back two weeks from September 4th 2009 to September 18th.

The controversial Lars Von Trier has been set for an October 23rd release in New York City and Los Angeles. The film will premiere two days earlier through IFC’s On Demand service.

The Screen Gems thriller directed by Nimrod Antel and starring Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, and Skeet Ulrich has been pushed back three months from September 18th 2009 to December 4th.

I Love You, Phillip Morris
The critically-acclaimed dramedy starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor has moved back a week from February 12th 2010 to February the 5th.

The Losers
Warner Bros. has scheduled the Tim Story-directed DC Comics adaptation starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, and Zoe Saldana for April 16th 2010; an odd date considering it puts it in direct competition with New Line’s reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Another horror remake….blah blah blah. Now that Antichrist will be available on IFC’s On Demand, I’m sure I will be able to track down a copy of it before having to see it in a theater. This is a big year for Matt Dillon. He has at least 3 big films, mostly thriller, being released. Armored has a very odd cast, but you never know, it might surprise us. Many of these changes are small ones, with films moving 1 or 2 weeks at the most. I am curious to see I Love You, Phillip Morris. The combination of Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor is very interesting.

Darabont Speaks
Speaking at the 35th Annual Saturn Awards, director Frank Darabont (“The Mist,” “The Shawshank Redemption”) tells STYD that his film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451” remains a high priority for him. “That’s been a bit of a struggle. Hollywood doesn’t trust smart material… I actually had a studio head read that script and say: “Wow, that’s the best and smartest script that I’ve read since running this studio but I can’t possibly greenlight it.” I asked why and he says “How am I going to get 13-year-olds to show up at the theater?”.” What about an adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Long Walk”? “‘It’s going to be coming up I think pretty shortly. But I’ll be making it, I’m sure, even more cheaply than “The Mist” because I don’t want to blow the material out of proportion. It’s such a very simple, weird, almost art film-like approach to telling a story” says Darabont.

What a shame that a brilliant filmmaker like Frank Darabont has trouble getting a script greenlit. The original adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 from Francois Truffaut was outstanding, but not perfect, and left enough room for improvement. That’s why I was excited to hear that Darabont was steering the project. Now it is up in the air. Why would anyone want 13-year-olds to see Fahrenheit 451 anyhow? It would certainly go above their heads. Of course Darabont is the master when adapting Stephen King, and I don’t think a small budget would hurt Darabont’s projects either. Someone just needs to give him something to work on. It is criminal that he doesn’t.

The 20 Second Sermon

Over at the site The Auteurs, various people have displayed fake Criterion covers for films they want to see the company release. I must say it is really neat. A Michael Jackson bit was cut from the premiere of Bruno recently. It remains to be seen if it will be cut from the theatrical release. This was the right call. Give this tragedy time to cool down, and I say it might be ok. I guess I shouldn’t say since I don’t know what the scene is. Evan Rachel Wood and Alan Cumming will star in the Spider-Man Broadway spectacle. No one has been cast as Spidey, but Jim Sturgess is rumored. This sounds…..horrendous. David Fincher is in advanced talks to direct The Social Network, the Facebook movie, written by Aaron Sorkin. Although this sounds quite out of the ordinary for Fincher, the screenwriter is trustworthy, so it could be good. Janet Jackson announced that she would be involved with Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too, but of course that is in question now. I would like to say how saddened I am about Michael Jackson’s death. Despite his issues, he is/was a legend, and his music will continue to live on. I hope he is at peace.

The DVD Release Rundown for June 30th

DVD Headline of the Week

Two Lovers – Writer/Director James Gray has delivered his finest film to date, a profound character driven drama, with exceptional turns from Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the rest of the cast. Gray’s direction is superb, and the plot augments that. Buyable

Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season – Again, I rarely do television, but I love this show, and I watched the last season in one day, so I’ll be getting this.

12 Rounds – Is John Cena’s second film better than The Marine? Look for a review on the site soon.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li – This is easily worse than the Van Damme version, and that says a lot. Every single part of this film was atrocious, especially the performances, which were vomit inducing. I hated this with a burning passion. Trashable

Lookin’ to Get Out! – Apparently this is the director’s cut. It stars Jon Voight, Ann-Margaret, Burt Young, and Angelina Jolie in her first film. This is from Hal Ashby, the director of Harold and Maude and Being There, so you know what to expect with this.

Tokyo! – Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Boon joon-ho each direct a segment set in the ultra modern Tokyo. I remember this in theaters, but had no idea it was a film in the vein of Paris, je T’aime and Night on Earth. I can’t wait to rent it.

Do the Right Thing (20th Anniversary Edition) – Of course this is a classic, and I already own the Criterion DVD, so I will not be updating. The most notable changes are the new transfer and I believe some deleted scenes. Otherwise, this recycles many of the Criterion extras. Still, if you don’t own it, buy it. Buyable

The Education of Charlie Banks – The cover of this DVD reminds me of The 400 Blows cover. This looks like it might be solid, but then again, it is directed by Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious.

Barfly – At long last, this film starring Faye Dunaway and Mickey Rourke comes to DVD…sort of. This is labeled as a Region 0 release, so I can imagine the video quality. Still, this is long overdue.

Women in Prison triple Feature – Gotta love women in prison B-movies. This includes The Hot Box, Women in cell Block 7, and Escape from Hell.

Tunnel Rats – A Vietnam War film from Uwe Boll, and someone gave it a 4 star review. Hell hath frozen over!

The Critic’s Quickee

Year One – If this movie were left up to the improvisations of Jack Black and Michael Cera, it would be a lot better, but alas, it is not. The writing in this film is abominable, and what makes that more disappointing is that Harold Ramis served not only as director, but as a major part of the screenwriting. Cera and Black are funny at times, but that is only because those two are funny normally. Their delivery makes the best of some truly horrible jokes. Year One relies on poop, fart, and penis lines for laughs, which is just sad. If they can’t think of anymore of those, they switch to sexual references and gay jokes. And for the sake of argument, let’s take away those flaws in the humor. Even if I don’t count that, most of the gags here are obvious. You watch these villagers come across a wheel for the first time, and the next scene is a wagon traveling super slowly, but the villagers have their hands in the air like they are on a rollercoaster. “Is that the best that they could come up with” was a recurring thought? Michael Cera rubs oil on Oliver Platt’s hairy chest in a scene that is just too disturbing to be funny. This has a superb cast, but they all have trouble making the material funny. Paul Rudd, David Cross, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and many others just do not fit. The female leads are also an issue. Both are very dull and do absolutely nothing to enhance the proceedings. They act like snobs, and the viewer wonders why these guys would go to all this trouble for these two bimbos. It’s not like Cera has Ellen Page or Kat Dennings to work off of, or in Jack Black’s case Kate Winslet if anyone remembers The Holiday. Here they have June Diane Raphael as Maya, and Eema is played by a girl named Juno in real life. The story is not cohesive at all. It is a series of situations one must have thought of off the top of their head. I would like to be generous because Michael Cera really does steal the show (if that honor could go to anyone), but Harold Ramis has given us the worst film of his career. I enjoyed his last film, The Ice Harvest, but I don’t know what happened here. I didn’t even think about the historical accuracy, but yeah, that sucks too. And I have talked and written a lot about the rating, which was appealed numerous times until they got PG-13. That makes no difference. This could have been Rated R and it still would have been terrible. Final Rating = 3.5/10.0

What Have I Done?

I did watch some movies this week. Among them: Cry-Baby from John Waters which was silly, but harmless fun. I also checked out Croupier from Mike Hodges, which was terrific. I finally watched Les Diaboliques a French thriller from Henri-Georges Clouzot, which was a classic. And I finished The Transporter franchise, which I hated, but that is another story.

This week I prepared for my annual excursion to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, specifically Butler, PA, for the Monster Bash convention where I meet up with friend and colleague Leonard Hayhurst. Regularly I need security to escort me inside since people are instantly familiar with the Big Screen Bulletin. In this case, I needed to fight off Lon Chaney Jr.’s great granddaughters off with a stick. In all seriousness though, they were incredibly nice girls with plenty of eager guys approaching them for pictures. I wish the family all the luck in the future.

When I first arrived, I saw something I had never seen in my life, but that instantly mesmerized me. Some young kid had a Harry Lime jersey on. That’s right, a Harry Lime jersey, the character from The Third Man. It had his face on the front, and his name and the #3 on the back. This kid vanished before I could demand from him where he got it, but I will be checking online soon. If anyone knows, please comment below.

Among the celebrities I met, which I am sure Leonard will elaborate on in his column, are Lou Ferrigno from The Incredible Hulk TV series. I must say I was disappointed, and I’ll leave my comments at that. Suffice to say, I did meet him, but did not wish to get an autograph. I did get Ricou Browning to sign my Creature of the Black Lagoon DVD, alongside Ben Chapman, so now I have the signatures of both actors who played the creature (1 was on land and 1 was in water). I also got a nice print of the Son of Frankenstein poster signed by Donnie Dunagan, better known as the voice of Bambi. I would have loved to get the cast of Night of the Living Dead to sign a poster as many were in attendance, but autographs get very expensive.

Of course I made some DVD purchases, and meant to stick to a list, but of course that did not occur. I almost bought a Hercules box set, most of the movies being low budget, and I quickly exchanged it for Picnic at Hanging Rock on Criterion (from Director Peter Weir), an odd film to see at a horror convention. I figured the Hercules movies would sit on my shelf unwatched. I did pick up The Invisible Man legacy series which I had been meaning to get for awhile, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Charles Laughton (I already own the Chaney version). I spotted two VHS tapes as well, both rare or out of print. One was The Abominable Snowman with Peter Cushing, and Maniac from 1980 with Joe Spinell.

Overall it was probably the most fun I’ve had at the convention. The Monster Bash is more laid back than many of the more hectic conventions, and since I have been going for a few years, I have grown to know and become comfortable with more of the staff. Plus, I was staff this time, and I tried to help out where I could. Sadly next year I might be absent from this convention since I’m getting married, but I highly recommend that you check it out if you have the chance.

Based on the Trailer…

Newest Trailers

Amelia – I am anxious to see this since I’ve researched the history a little bit. The cast looks tremendous, so it should be terrific. The various words at the end of the trailer were lame, but otherwise this has me excited. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Last Airbender – From Director M. Night Shyamalan comes this live-action film based on anime. This looks interesting, and maybe a bit epic, but it could go either way. You never know with Shyamalan. Too early to tell here. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

A Perfect Getaway – An island thriller with Steve Zahn. Sorry if I’m not ecstatic. This is from David Twohy, the man behind Pitch Black. I think this looks incredibly stupid, but maybe you won’t. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

Ponyo – The next film from Hayao Miyazaki looks amazing. I’ve been a big fan of his for many years now so I can’t wait for this. The animation in this trailer puts most CGI to shame. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Gamer – Call this similar to Death Race or The Condemned and I would still say it looks terrible, and the title makes it worse in my opinion. The cast is better than I would have predicted, and I will give credit for using Marilyn Manson’s awesome cover of “Sweet Dreams.” Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

July Releases

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

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

I Love You, Beth Cooper – The new film from Chris Columbus starts out promising, and Hayden Panettiere looks good, but this reeks of like 20 other high school comedies. Count me out. This is disappointing from a guy who normally understands what it takes to make a solid kid movie. Trailer Rating = 2.5/10.0

Adam – A quirky romantic comedy where one has a disability of some sort. One of these comes out every so often. This looks like it could provide some laughs, but I doubt many will see it. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

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

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

Shrink – Kevin Spacey stars as a shrink who has his own issues. I don’t know. This looks like it could be funny, but some of the acting looks too exaggerated for the tone they want. Maybe I’m wrong. It could be decent. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

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

August Releases

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

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

G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra – I’m sorry, but this is not anything remotely similar to the fun show I watched as a kid. I may be older, but I know a travesty in the making when I see one, and this has all the markings. This looks like total and utter horse dung. I don’t know how else to phrase it. Trailer Rating = 2.0/10.0

Julie & Julia – Starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, this is based on 2 true stories, one is of Julia Childs. These women are great actresses, and even though Streep’s accent seems a bit off, and the story strikes me as disjointed, I have a feeling this will be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Paper Heart – This looks like a lovely indy film. The concept seems interesting, and it strikes me as very funny. This is the type of stuff Michael Cera should be doing, not Year One. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard – Jeremy Piven leads this comedy that has many of the actors from The Hangover. This is obviously similar to the Ari Gold character, but I’m on board just because Piven can be very funny when he wants to be. The “Pearl Harbor” bit is hilarious btw. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Shorts – I have seen at least a dozen trailers involving aliens lately, so when I saw this, I thought it looked terrible, but then I noticed that Robert Rodriguez was directing, and so I watched it again. It has me interested, and it may be fun. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

Cold Souls – A famous American actor explores soul extraction as a relief from the burdens of daily life. Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, and David Straitharn star in this, and looks very funny, exactly the type of movie I’ll love and no one else will see. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Initially, this strikes you like The Lake House in some way, but hopefully it is nothing like that. Plus, this has better leads in Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. For a romance, this looks pretty darn good. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

District 9 – Peter Jackson produces this Neill Blomkamp feature. This guy was originally slated for the Halo film, but this is not far off. The trailer certainly gets your attention, and has a Signs vibe to it, which I like. Color me intrigued for now. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

The Final Destination – What a dumb title. Why not just say “Final Destination 4”? People see these movies to watch the creative ways of dying. That’s it. All the installments have been mediocre with a possible exception of the first film. This looks dumb. The well has run dry. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

H2 – The Rob Zombie Halloween sequel looks a lot better than I anticipated with a definite Friday the 13th/Pamela Voorhees vibe going on (as Mr. Luers told me). I really hope this turns out well because Zombie deserves more respect as a filmmaker. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

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

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

September Releases

Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself – This is just a teaser, but you know what you’re getting when Madea is the main character of a film. This is what keeps Perry relevant, so logically he continues to make films with her. This is somewhat humorous, but nothing I’m interested in. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

9 – This looks amazing, and the Coheed & Cambria 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

Surrogates – Here is another film that has the potential to be very good, or very bad. The director is Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), so I hope this is solid. Bruce Willis looks bizarre, but maybe that’s a positive, and the plot has echoes of other sci-fi flicks, but you never know, this might surprise us. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

Extract – Mike Judge is delivering another comedy set in the workplace, and I can’t wait. Ben Affleck has a cool look going on, and Jason Bateman is usually golden in comedies these days, so this should be terrific. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Astro Boy – A lot of bright colors, fancy CGI, an all-star cast, and not much else. I realize fans of the many TV series’ will be excited, but this character just translates as ordinary to the big screen. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0

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

October, TBD, and Beyond Releases

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

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

Sherlock Holmes – Guy Ritchie is sending mixed signals with this one. I am anxious to see it, but this trailer shows an action film, and call me old fashioned, but I kind of prefer the mystery to outweigh the action. However, Rachel McAdams looks damn sexy and Kurrgan is involved, so those are both positive points. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – A generic looking courtroom thriller complete with generic title. Jesse Metcalfe, or John Tucker from John Tucker Must Die is not a good actor, and aside from Michael Douglas outshining everyone as a scumbag attorney, I have no reason to see this. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

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

Antichrist Lars Von Trier, the director of Dogville and Manderlay, is behind this new psychological thriller/horror effort. It just might be decent, but with Willem Dafoe, one never can tell. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

More than a Game – If this focuses on the entire high school team, and not just LeBron James, it could be a very decent documentary. The trailer certainly spreads the wealth, so that’s good. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0

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

Old Dogs – John Travolta and Robin Williams lead an all-star cast in a comedy from the director of Wild Hogs. This will make a lot of money. I think it looks dumb and over the top, but it might be worth a laugh or two. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Zombieland – This looks hysterical, and very much in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, but that’s ok because Woody Harrelson rocks, and if he’s killing zombies, I’m paying for a ticket. Nuff said. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Shutter Island – Martin Scorsese’s new film looks outstanding, and yes, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, but who cares? They do great things together. The cast looks terrific, and the plot seems intriguing. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0

Untitled Michael Moore Documentary – This was a very funny teaser. It is typical Moore comedy, but I appreciated the way it was set up. No one gets the world interested in documentaries (or whatever you call Moore’s stuff) like he does. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0

2012 – This teaser has been circulating for awhile, but I felt the need to rate it anyway. Roland Emmerich tackles another disaster epic, this one showcasing a flood. Gee, we have never seen any movies about cataclysmic floods before. I suddenly long to watch Knowing again for originality. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

2012 (2) – This looks insane, but right up Roland Emmerich’s alley. The special effects look incredible, but plot seems to be an exact replica of the last 20 disaster epics. Still, the powerful images will probably be enough to drag me to the theater. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0

The Princess and the Frog – It’s about time Disney returned to hand drawn animation. This looks to be a lot of fun, and very much in the spirit of the classic tales they used to adapt when Walt was around…maybe he still is. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

The Road – This is based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, the same person who wrote the book to No Country for Old Me. I had no idea this was about the end of civilization. I am disappointed somewhat, but it could be good since Viggo and Charlize are the leads. These types of storylines always have the potential to be terrible though. The release date for this has already been pushed a number of times. I hope the final cut is better than this trailer. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0

The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Boy does this look retarded. The sequels will no doubt increase the hatred for this series. The were-wolf morphing is truly retarded. I say pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0

Toy Story 3 – This is an early teaser, but it still gets me excited. I can’t wait for this, and I’ve heard it if fantastic from footage screened early. It has a tough act to follow, but I have faith. Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, and Werner Herzog. Hell yes! This could be bad or good, but I have faith in Herzog to elicit the best from this quirky cast. This story looks bizarre, but with Herzog, a trailer is never as good as the full feature. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0

Nine – The new musical from Rob Marshall (Chicago) looks to be infused with Fellini-esque qualities, which is a good thing. The cast certainly qualifies for the all-star label, and story looks entertaining, so I’m there. This should be fantastic. I mean come on, Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis are just the tip of the iceberg. This is one of my most anticipated for 2009. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0

Other Stuff to Read

The Best Movies of the Alphabet
The Best and Worst Bond Films.
411 June Roundtable – This month Owain J. Brimfield continues as roundtable host and compiles the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the summer releases for June! 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 Boxing Zone
The 411 MMA Zone

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Chad Webb
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