The Big Screen Bulletin 07.20.09: What a Long and Strange Trip It’s Been
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.
Starring: Terry O’Quinn, Meg Foster, Caroline Williams, and Jonathan Brandis
Directed By: Jeff Burr
Written By: John Auerbach
Theatrical Release Date: November 2, 1989
Missing Since: 2003-2004
Existing Formats: Bootlegs and Used Copies
Netflix Status: Not Available
Availability: Limited unless you attend conventions – $35 for DVD
In my review of The Stepfather last week I stated that it did not rely on body count for thrills and chills. That would be rectified with the 1989 sequel quite early on. In the opening shots of The Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy, the filmmakers are asking the viewer to suspend disbelief, and also hoping that an eyeball roll will alleviate all problems. Those first shots display Terry O’Quinn, who seems to have survived his encounter with Jill Schoelen. He examines his battle scars, one located over his heart, which turned out not to be fatal. It is apparent quickly that The Stepfather 2 takes the intriguing premise and goes too far.
It appears that “The Stepfather” has turned over a new leaf. He finds himself in the hands of a more trustworthy therapist at the Puget Sound Mental Institution in Washington, and this man approves the taking off of cuffs and even allows himself to talk with the disturbed patient alone. This of course proves to be a mistake, as our villain takes the first opportunity to eliminate the kind therapist with a hidden weapon, and then makes short work of the guard. He slips on the uniform of that guard, and leaves the asylum. For a building harboring mass serial killers, the security coverage is certainly lax.
At this point I must voice my aggravation at not knowing what to call O’Quinn’s character on paper. Do I call him Jerry Blake, the stepfather, or his assumed alias in this film, which is a deceased family therapist named Gene Clifford? Whatever. He seems to stay in Washington state, and finds a “dream house” in Palm Meadow Estates. After a too briefly comical scene where he peruses women on a video dating service, he decides to aim for the realtor that sold him his house, Carol Grayland, played by a very sleepy looking Meg Foster. It’s difficult to swallow Foster in this role knowing her scary blue eyes were put to proper use as Evil-lyn in Masters of the Universe. She strikes me as out of place in this role, but you get used to it.
Carol comes with baggage, specifically a son named Todd, depicted by a very young Jonathan Brandis. She also has a nosey friend named Matty Crimmins, which does not sound like a real name does it? Anyway, Gene the bad guy moves in on Carol via phony family therapy sessions, while her friend Matty becomes suspicious and Carol’s ex attempts to come back into her life. The big problem with The Stepfather 2 is that the primary hero part is divided. Caroline Williams clearly is supposed to assume that position as her character of Matty does the investigating via her mail route. She commits a federal offense by digging into Gene’s mail. That’s not nice. However, she is not the character who faces him in the final confrontation. That is still given to the child, played by Brandis. This may seem like a small gripe, but it shows a lack of focus.
As inconsequential as this sequel is, I enjoyed Williams’ Matty. She sports hoop earrings big enough to dive through, and makes an attractive mail woman for any street. It is silly of her not to contact authorities immediately after knowing the man is lying about his identity, but what type of film would we have if she did? I also enjoyed Brandis as the young boy, who likes Gene right away because he fills the void of a father figure. Brandis was a spectacular child star in his time. He is less irritating than Schoelen and a better performer. It would still be a few years and many minor appearances on popular television shows before Brandis became a star though.
O’Quinn lends an inspired but slightly weaker performance of the character here. Instead of concentrating on Gene’s desire to attain the perfect family, he seems more interested in simply getting a family and living undetected from the authorities. Odd that news of the escape and failure to recapture him is consistently on the news, yet his picture only appears once in the newspaper. Surely he takes a gargantuan risk of living amongst yuppies who will not notice his poor disguise in the neighborhood. O’Quinn is also given a handful more one-liners to toss around like “It’s time we cracked this bottle open” or “We’re just wrapping things up” (as he rolls a dead body in a carpet). He does the best with what was presented him.
Although the argument can be made that this second installment merely amps up the gore from the original and not much else, it does strive for something unique in centering on the courtship of his relationship rather than the post-marriage and subsequent killings. The sad thing is the proposal is rushed and comes out of nowhere so the plot can advance quicker. Carol might be vulnerable, but this would be a dumb decision any way you slice it from the woman. Still, this type of hasty marriage has occurred plenty of times in real life. In my opinion, the courtship should have taken a backseat to Gene fleeing from the cops. Had this sequel made that the main storyline, it would have been more entertaining, would have been a better excuse for the higher body count, and would have avoided the skin of being a retread of the original.
The Stepfather 2: Make Room for Daddy (I still chuckle at the title) was directed by Jeff Burr, certainly no stranger to the horror genre. However, that does not mean he is a legend. His resume includes the following: Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), Puppetmaster V: The Final Chapter (1994), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994), Night of the Scarecrow (1995), Johnny Mysto, Boy Wizard (1997), Phantom Town (1998), Spoiler (1998), The Werewolf Reborn (1998), The Boy with X-Ray Eyes (1999), Straight Into Darkness (2005), The Devil’s Den (2006) and Luger of the Black Sun (2006). Burr fails to stir up any atmosphere in The Stepfather 2, fails to heighten the level of suspense, or instill a frightening mood for that matter. His style if stiff and relies too heavily on the blood spilled rather than the taut story structure possessed by its predecessor.
Having described all the flaws and shortcomings, The Stepfather 2 does provide ample amounts of enjoyment if you love bad horror sequels. The comedy is increased for good measure, and the final battle is sensational as Meg Foster, Jonathan Brandis, and Terry O’Quinn have a triple threat match before the wedding ceremony resulting in hammer violence and a strange entrance into the church. The word spreading is that this sequel will be released on DVD closely with the original as the remake approaches. What has not been announced for DVD is The Stepfather 3, so stay tuned for that in upcoming Nether Region installments. On a side note, the mini-figurines on that cake do not apply at all to the characters in the plot. And the dog? Oh well.
Final Rating = 6.0/10.0
The News Bulletin
BOX OFFICE TOP TEN
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – $79.4 million ($159.6 million)
2. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – $17.7 million ($152 million)
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $13.7 million ($363.8 million)
4. Bruno – $8.3 million ($49.5 million)
5. The Hangover – $8.3 million ($235.8 million)
6. The Proposal – $8.2 million ($128 million)
7. Public Enemies – $7.5 million ($79.4 million)
8. Up – $3.1 million ($279.5 million)
9. My Sister’s Keeper – $2.8 million ($41.5 million)
10. I Love You Beth Cooper – $2.6 million ($10.2 million)
I know we all predicted Harry Potter 6 to be #1, and I got that much right, but I also know my top 5 on the podcast was way off. Oh well. Bruno took a big drop, one of the more significant of the summer, while Transformers 2, Ice Age 3, The Hangover, and The Proposal are still doing amazing business. Public Enemies is making its way down the top 10, Up is approaching $300 million domestically, while My Sister’s Keeper has to be excited by their intake. Next week we have The Ugly Truth and G-Force but neither will dethrone Potter. It will be the king again.
It was very well-reviewed and many (including myself) have been keen to see a sequel, and now the Associated Press reports that a follow-up to 2003’s “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” may finally be in the works. V Star Russell Crowe Crowe has entered into early negotiations for the sequel, and revealed that a script is already written with much of the action based on “The Reverse of the Medal”, the eleventh novel in Patrick O’Brian’s twenty-book series. Based mostly on the tenth novel in the series ‘The Far Side of the World’, the first film also utilized elements from the first (“Master and Commander”), the third (“HMS Surprise”) and fifth (“Desolation Island”) books in the series.
The plot for ‘Medal’ sees Crowe’s Captain Jack Aubrey sailing into the Carribbean with his HMS Surprise ship, where he discovers his illegitimate black son, Samuel Panda, now a Catholic priest. The Captain soon ends up arrested and imprisoned in Marshalsea for insider trading after being setup by his fellow countrymen and a corrupted diplomatic agent. There’s long been talk of a sequel, but the main hurdle has been expense. Peter Weir’s ‘World’ was a costly $150 million at the time and made just $93 million domestically. Internationally, where historical dramas always fare better, it took in a further $118 million. With many studios cutting back on costs, the choice of ‘Medal’ isn’t unexpected as much of it seems to be almost a courtroom drama with little in the way of costly sea-based naval action.
I am highly in favor of a sequel to Master and Commander: Far Side of the World. It represents one of Crowe’s most underrated roles, and it was brilliantly directed by Peter Weir. The story could easily continue, and although the proposed one sounds odd on paper, it could work if the cast and crew returned. Many elements to click again, and the stars need to align for this to be a reality. If people gave it a chance, and it if was marketed better, this could be an ongoing franchise. Still, as the article states studios are cutting back, but greenlighting this is a brighter sign of things to come, even if it is a minor one. Weir has one project on his slate, and Crowe is in the middle of Robin Hood with no other confirmed projects. This needs to happen. Now is the right time.
The rumors reached fever pitch the other day that director Peter Jackson would be announcing casting news for “The Hobbit” at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. Not so fast. “No, we won’t be announcing Bilbo for a little while. We’re starting to think about casting, but we’re knee-deep in the script right now. And when we do go to actors, they’re probably going to ask to see a script, so we’re powering ahead with getting the first draft done” the director told Empire Magazine the other day in the lead-up to the event.
Jackson also says that he’s undecided as to his next directorial effort once he wraps “The Lovely Bones”. Jackson says “We are developing a couple of projects which are potentially films that I’d direct for next year. Temeraire is still on the cards. But those are really taking a second place at the moment.” Naomi Novik’s fantasy novel series “Tenemaire” revolves around English and French armies fighting in the Napoleonic wars with dragons.
By inflating costs and omitting certain revenue in its accounting, Time Warner’s New Line Cinema effectively saw to it that the Lord of the Rings movies made no profit and could thereby justify making no payment to the heirs of Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, according to a lawsuit filed by the Tolkien family and reported by Bloomberg News on Wednesday. Under terms of the original deal, the Tolkien heirs were to receive 7.5 percent of future movie profits. If the lawsuit comes to trial, more details about Hollywood’s accounting practices are expected to be revealed, the wire service observed. It could also result in the Tolkiens snatching away the rights to The Hobbit, which is now in preproduction.
Once again, someone creates rumors, and every internet site believes them. McAvoy was rumored shortly after Del Toro assumed his duties as director, but now David Tennat from Doctor Who and Daniel Radcliffe are rumored. Radcliffe? Hahaha. There is now way Peter Jackson and Guillermo Del Toro would risk hiring Radcliffe, a face synonymous with Harry Potter. Radcliffe will have more luck with roles after the series is finished, but not now. Why can’t people just accept that no casting is taking place? On a related note, why can’t people just accept that Christopher Nolan is not thinking about Batman 3. Get a life people, please. As for Jackson’s future, I will be eager to see his progression after his time in Middle Earth has concluded for good. The bottom paragraph in italics above shows more signs of money trouble for The Hobbit. It really is a shame that so much shadiness went down during The Lord of the Rings. The studio might have won Jackson back, but the Tolkiens will be harder to appease. They deserve a profit, so give it to them and move one before this turns into a Superman fiasco.
Update 7/18: The Playlist says that Steven Seagal is also being rumored, and may be close to signing.
Original 7/17: Bloody Disgusting has scored some interesting casting rumors about “Machete”, the upcoming Robert Rodriguez-directed vigilante action film based on the “Grindhouse” trailer. According to the site Michelle Rodriguez (TV’s “Lost,” “Fast and Furious”) and Jonah Hill (“Superbad,” “Funny People”) are set to play Luz and Julio respectively, while the legendary Robert DeNiro has a small role as ‘Senator McLaughlin’. The talk is just rumor for now. Danny Trejo is set to return as the titular gun-toting Mexican while Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis are co-directing the project which begins filming July 29th.
Ok, believing that De Niro is considering this more far-fetched than accepting that Hogwarts exists. I’d bet De Niro’s agent was sent the script, and word got out so the world thinks De Niro will be in Machete. Bobby D has a full slate for the next few years, but I admit, it would be terrific to see him in a film based on a faux Grind House trailer. He does have a connection with Tarantino/Rodriguez, which is that he was in Jackie Brown, but this is still “out there.” I can see Seagal jumping at the chance of a mainstream flick, and I can even see Michelle Rodriguez. Jonah Hill….ehh..maybe, but I’d have to hear it from him. Talk of these trailers becoming films has been popping up for awhile now. I just want to see ONE actually happen to prove that every update is not concocted internet BS.
Nicolas Cage tells MTV News that he’s still keen on doing a sequel to “Ghost Rider” but “reconceive” the property (ala “The Incredible Hulk”). “I would like to do a re-conceive. I would like to go in a whole other direction, and I think that’s what they’re talking about. I would make it much less of a Western and more of an international story” said Cage during promotions for the upcoming family film “G-Force”. The quote supports previous comments from Cage which had the desire to involve the Vatican and potentially move quite a bit of the action to Europe.
-From MTV News
As Mr. Sirois pointed out on the podcast, Cage does not say that a “reconceive” or “reimagining” of Ghost Rider should mean the recasting of the lead. But maybe “reconceive” is a new term to add to the pile including “reboot” and “reimagining”. Thanks Nic for giving us another. I would love to see a solid Ghost Rider film, and truth be told, the only way to do it to start from scratch and instill a new vision, from a filmmaker that is not Mark Steven Johnson. Cage was very cautious above revealing any info in the video from this news bit and that is because he does not want to blow any chance of it happening because let’s be honest, Ghost Rider was not nearly as critically and financially successful as it needed to be for a sequel. His hopes strike me as similar to that of Hugh Jackman before X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released. Jackman talked about a sequel in Japan before his flick even hit theaters. Now those hopes seem like fantasy as the first one disappointed in many ways. I like Cage, and I appreciate his passion for comics, but Ghost Rider is a hard one to pull off in live-action. I hope if they do go forward with a “reconceive” that is focuses on substance and not just eye-popping visuals.
The 20 Second Sermon
Dune mini-series writer/director John Harrison is penning a four-hour mini-series based on Stephen King’s 2006 novel Cell. Eli Roth had been previously attached to direct a feature film version. This means it will probably be great now that we know Roth will not be involved. Plus, a mini-series take will be interesting. Both Courtney Cox and David Arquette will reprise their roles in Scream 4, but Neve Campbell will not. I feel Sydney’s story is done anyway. The other two will be fun to see back as long as they aren’t the main characters. Many years back, Craven said if he did do more sequels past Scream 3, it would involve new characters. I agree with this method of thinking, but if Craven is not on board somehow, any Scream 4 is a bad idea. It was his baby, let him do it. Director David Yates says though they looked into it, they will probably NOT be using “Benjamin Button” style aging technology for the final scene of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. He does however confirm that it will be the original kids themselves though playing their adult selves. This doesn’t matter as long as the actors are good enough to look and seem older. This remains to be seen.
The DVD Release Rundown for July 21st
DVD Headline of the Week
Coraline – This is an easy contender for best animated film of 2009. Writer/Director Henry Selick adapts Neil Gaiman’s book with creativity, humor, realism, and visual brilliance. The voice cast is terrific, the stop-motion work is top-notch, and everyone should be congratulated here. This is available on Blu-Ray, single disc standard, and 2-Disc standard. Buyable
Watchmen (Director’s Cut) – I can’t recommend this version since I haven’t seen it, but the theatrical cut is available too. I enjoyed the movie, but have lost some respect for that version as time has rolled along. Still, I would only rent the “Director’s Cut.” After all, the “Ultimate Edition” should be on the way soon.
300 – The Complete Experience (Blu-Ray) – For those who have held out through so many releases of this film, now is the time to act. I enjoyed the film enough to purchase it, and it appears that this edition has the most to offer.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars – Episode II – Personally, I found their first Star Wars spoof funnier than what Family Guy did, so I’ll definitely check this one out.
Made in U.S.A. – Criterion Collection – Collectors rejoice! 2 Jean-Luc Godard films are released, and I’m sure film buffs will be preordering these, or maybe just Roger Ebert and Martin Scorsese. This is about a female private investigator, and is described on Amazon as “delirious.” I’m in.
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her – Criterion Collection – The 2nd Godard effort this week sounds more interesting. It follows a housewife who prostitutes herself for extra money. Supposedly this includes some great narration.
The Great Buck Howard – I was really upset I missed this in theaters, but thankfully it did not take long to arrive on DVD. It stars John Malkovich and both Hankses. How could it be bad?
Echelon Conspiracy – Shockingly, this bland looking thriller received a theatrical release, but only for like a week. It is about a dude being chased by the government, and stars Ving Rhames, Edward Burns, and Martin Sheen. This resembles around 12 other flicks, so I’ll gracefully pass.
Messengers 2: The Scarecrow – A DTV sequel to the horror flick starring Kristen Stewart by the Pang brothers. Why? What demand could their have been for this? Oh well.
An Empress and the Warriors – A new film from the Dragon Dynasty label. This is an action epic from Ching Sui Tung, the cinematographer and choreographer on Hero and House of Flying Daggers so it can’t be too bad.
Retribution Road – This is a meaningless DTV western about an outlaw and a sheriff, and no one in the cast is well-known, but I would like to point out that we now have Reservation Road, Revolutionary Road, and now Retribution Road. My proposed titles for the future: Restructuring Road, Recall Road, Resolution Road, Retooling Road… Have I missed any?
The Critic’s Quickee
Bruno – What was original and hilarious in Borat is less so the second time around. For those that watched Bruno and Borat, you might better understand my view on outrageous comedies. I do not think Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat has aged well, and the same will be true of this. This new character’s adventure has the same sort of outline that Cohen employed before. You have and mixture of interviews and other gags, but this time, we know that some people are in on the joke, and when the filmmaker attempts to convince us they are not, the gag isn’t as funny. One of the glaring abuses of this is when Bruno interviews parents for these offensive pictures. All the parents agree to the most ridiculous poses for the kids and not for a second did I believe they were genuine. I admit, I laughed at Borat when I saw it, and I did here as well, but I recognize it for what it is: a theater event. Cohen’s goal is to shock, disgust, and make the audience feel awkward and uncomfortable. If you weren’t laughing, but felt those emotions, Cohen accomplished what he set out to do. What is not a goal is to annoy the viewer, and I feel Bruno does exactly that after awhile. Nevertheless, he uses a lot of creative stunts here. The martial arts lesson, the miming for the psychic, the swingers party, and Straight Dave’s Man Slammin’ were my favorite moments. Unfortunately he also goes over the line and tries to make fun of things that aren’t proper to make fun of like autism, terrorist groups, and adopting foreign babies. There is a sequence where he tries to make peace between Palestinian and Israeli officials, and that was dumb. Other moments are just jaw dropping and make one think how Cohen had the guts to go through with it, such as the sexual encounters with his temporary boyfriend Diesel. I feel sorry for Isla Fisher, who is dating Cohen. That must be an interesting relationship. Cohen certainly pushes the envelope and I give him credit for inventiveness, but I compare his films to stand-up comedy shows. Some you may enjoy, others you may not care about, but will you like it enough to buy an album, or in this case a DVD? Maybe, but usually not. Chances are it was a fun time at the movies, but when you leave you will have no desire to repeat that same experience again. I just don’t think these films leave a lasting effect. I mean how funny will these gags be the 3rd and 4th time around? The problem is unless Bruno can shock you with nudity or a variation thereof, he comes off as mediocre homosexual stereotype, and that was how I felt about the film in general….mediocre. Final Rating = 6.0/10.0
What Have I Done?
Monday – In one day, I read Ethan Coen’s play Almost an Evening, which was only about 73 pages long. It consists of three short plays rolled into one. They are: “Waiting”, “Four Benches”, and “Debate.” The book I have includes an explanation for the title which is humorous. I would divulge on the plots, but that might spoil the fun. “Waiting” and “Debate” are hilarious. “Four Benches” is somewhat mysterious, but all 3 have a sharp satirical edge with that wonderful Coen humor. The cast included Mark-Linn Baker (Perfect Strangers) and F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus) among others. If you’re a Coen fan, I recommend checking this out.
Tuesday – I listened to Dream Theater’s new album Black Clouds & Silver Linings, and loved it. The band is not losing any of its strength with age. The edition I bought actually had a second disc called “Uncovered” and a third disc with instrumental mixes of the main album. The whole set is fantastic, but the real joy is the first disc. Every song is awesome, and if you can only buy that, please do so. Dream Theater deserves much more credit than they get now. My favorite track from this album: “The Count of Tuscany”.
Wednesday – For those who enjoy dysfunctional family dramas, 1998’s The Celebration showcases one of the most screwed up families in cinematic history, and I am dead serious. Director Thomas Vinterberg shot this in a style he helped create called “Dogme 95″ which means pointed the camera and shot, using no props or artificial sounds. This was an intense experience, one that lingers in your memory. The plot goes a bit crazy at times, but this is unlike anything you’ll ever see again. I admired the guts it had, and would gladly purchase it for under $15 on Amazon. Go ahead and rent it on Netflix.
Thursday – So on this day I bought a Fat Sandwich at Rutgers University, a place I visit every now and then. The fiancée and I love them, specifically the Fat Mojo. A Fat Sandwich is a very large submarine-type sandwich filled with an array of different foods including French fries. With several different variations of the actual ingredients, some of the most popular consist of mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, jalapeño poppers, and pizza bites. It might sound odd on paper, but trust me, they are delicious, and apparently variations of it are sold around the country. Get one if you can find one.
The Weekend – I attended another wedding to attend this weekend. I wish my friends would just get married already! Before that though, I played a board game for the first time in a long time. I don’t usually play them because I watch too many damn movies. In this case, we played “The Game of Life: Twists and Turns”, a new version of the classic game involving updated careers and technology. Kind of dull for a Friday night, but I was dragged into it. It would be more fun if I wasn’t exhausted at the time.
Based on the Trailer…
Big Fan – Wow is all I can say. This looks terrific, even if it is about a Giants fan. Seriously though, Patton Oswalt looks great, and the premise appears to be excellent. I can’t wait to see this. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Giallo – An intriguing horror mystery from Dario Argento, which looks to be solid by the looks of it. Adrien Brody seems odd in the role from these clips, but I’d certainly see this just because Argento is at the helm. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
Precious – This is about how life can be very hard sometimes. The cast includes Mariah Carey and Mo’Nique, both of whom look to be outstanding, and I can’t believe I just wrote that, but it’s true. See for yourself. This looks to be a winner. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Post Grad – The title tells you what the premise is. Alexis Bledel looks for a job. Many better movies have been made about this period in one’s life, and this looks sugarcoated. I’ll probably pass. Trailer Rating = 5.0/10.0
An Education – This British drama could go either way. It stars Peter Sarsgaard, and I like to see him getting juicer roles. The rest of the cast seems strong too, including Emma Thompson and Alfred Molina. Depending on how easy this is to see in theaters, I’d give it a shot. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief – I know now that this is based on a series of books. This looks intriguing and fun, much better than many fantasy films these days, but the title certainly throws unsuspecting viewers for a loop. Still, I’ll be seeing it. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
Despicable Me – Universal releases a very bizarre looking animated film about stealing priceless landmarks. The voice cast looks great, but I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. It didn’t make me laugh so much as it made me tilt my head and say “WTF?” Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
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
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
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
Bandslam – An American Idol competition, except with bands instead of solo singers. This has Vanessa Hudgens, and a bunch of other newbies. It looks pretty plain, but harmless all the same. I’ll say this, I didn’t hate the trailer, but it was still weak. I doubt I’d see it unless it got rave reviews. Trailer Rating = 6.0/10.0
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
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
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
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
Halloween II (2) – Well, this trailer is certainly different that the first one, and I’m not sure how enthusiastic I am now, but I’m still hoping this sequel will be entertaining. I noticed a lot more Zombie-esque imagery here, not to mention some cool looking kill scenes. Trailer Rating = 7.5/10.0
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
Five Minutes of Heaven – The new film from Oliver Hirschbiegel, the mastermind behind Downfall. This stars Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday), and is the story of UVF member Alistair Little. It looks brilliant from this preview, and I will definitely be seeing it. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
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
Inglorious Basterds (2) – This movie still looks outstanding, and viciously different from the original. I doubt it will garner that best Picture nom I had in mind at the beginning of 2009, but oh well. And Mike Myers makes an appearance in this trailer! Trailer Rating = 8.5/10.0
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
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
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
Jennifer’s Body – This looks highly entertaining, and with Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried acting in a Diablo Cody horror script, it should be awesome. It should have loads of that lingo all the men love from Juno. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
The Invention of Lying – This is going to be hilarious from start to finish. I’m a huge Ricky Gervais fan, and I can’t wait to see this. The cast is terrific, and the premise is creative. Trailer Rating = 10.0/10.0
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
Carriers – This trailer wants to disguise the fact that it is another mediocre “infected” movie badly. And it gives way too much information away. I feel like I know how it ends now. Chris Pine was great as Kirk, but here….not so much. I’ll pass. Trailer Rating = 4.0/10.0
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
The Box – Ok, my feelings on Richard Kelly and Donnie Darko are well known now, but tell me with a straight face this trailer does not make you laugh a little. They actually use the line “Is someone pushing you buttons?” in reference to the box. This does seem somewhat intriguing, but I would put money on it being horrendous. Trailer Rating = 5.5/10.0
The Stepfather – I must admit, this does not look as bad as I thought, but it still looks to have some issues. This film keeps the real father and adds a couple kids. I’ll certainly see this, but am not sure how good it will be yet. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
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
Couples Retreat – This looks to be very funny, and hopefully the comedy is leveled out and not left up to Vaughn’s typical shtick. Of course this trailer shows mostly him. Still, for people around the ages of the characters, this will be a definite date night. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
Assassination of a High School President – The review quotes will help this because the trailer can’t make this look all that different from other high school comedies. Bruce Willis is picking the most random roles lately, but he seems hilarious as the Principal. This could be very funny and engaging. Trailer Rating = 7.0/10.0
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
Brothers – From Jim Sheridan, the man who gave us In America and Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Gyllenhaal rocks a beard, Natalie Portman has long hair again, and Tobey Maguire plays an insane soldier. I cannot wait to see this, though I do need to see the original. One of the best trailers I’ve seen this year. Trailer Rating = 9.0/10.0
Broken Embraces – The new drama from Pedro Almodovar. It looks appropriately strange, but that’s not unusually for him. Penelope Cruz looks good as always, but I am not as fond of Pedro as others. Still, I’m sure I’ll see this. Trailer Rating = 6.5/10.0
Daybreakers – A world where almost everyone is a vampire. This story actually seems intelligent, whereas most vampire plots these days are crap. Ethan Hawke seems to be channeling his Gattaca roots here. The song from Placebo is very effective in the trailer also. Trailer Rating = 8.0/10.0
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
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 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
Cemetery Junction – The first feature film from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, with Ralph Fiennes. I can’t wait. This is Gervais’ year to become a bigger star than he already is. Even though this had no clips from the films, it still makes me want to see it. 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
Other Stuff to Read
The Best Movies of the Alphabet
The Best and Worst Bond Films.
411 July Roundtable - This month Owain J. Brimfield continues as roundtable host and compiles the thoughts of the movie zone staff on the summer releases for July!
The MeeThinks Friday FreeThinks – Thanks again to John Meehan for providing my banner here, and for the Alphabet feature.