Vampires are Back! Kind of… [May 20, 2011]

In last week’s column, I mentioned how we are in that dreaded period just before the summer rush, where all the studios release the crap they’ve been keeping on their shelves since last summer. Well, this weeks’ bowl of turds both confirms and refutes that statement.

We do have one major blockbuster coming out this week, and that’s the fourth installment of Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, in case you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, you still have an internet connection?). It’s arriving a week before Memorial Day, the inauguration of the summer movie season and, well, summer, for that matter. While there is a major movies coming out this weekend, let’s not get too carried away with yelling at Physoo and calling him a liar. If you take a look at recent history, there are typically two major “summer” movies that premier in May. The first is Marvell’s biggest movie of the year, e.g., Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor. The second – and this is typically the weekend immediately before Memorial Day – is the third or fourth installment of a film series that has already been run into the ground. For examples, see the last Shrek, one of the summer Harry Potter  releases, and Star Wars Episodes 1-3.

The reason they are released one weekend early is pretty obvious; they’re trying to get a head start on the most lucrative period of the year in Hollywood. But if it’s that easy, everyone would just be one-uping each other, right? Not necessarily. You see, it has to be a sequel of a firmly established series, otherwise it may be too risky and not get the initial box-office-draw necessary to sustain itself into June. In that way, it kind of makes sense that Marvel’s biggest release is also in May. After all, they already have a pre-established audience from their comic books.

However, there is one minor drawback. If the sequel is released in May, it’s typically gonna suck. For examples, see the last Shrek, one of the summer Harry Potter  releases, and Star Wars Episodes 1-3. The counter-argument is that most sequels suck. While this is true, Dark Knight had a Mid-July release. With that example alone, I’m just gonna declare my argument “won.”

Oh yeah, and because of Pirates, none of the other studios even attempted to release anything this week.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger or Tides or This Horse is Not Yet Dead

If you’re anything like me, you just looked at my intro, went “blah blah blah, that’s too long,” and skipped down to the part with the bold titles and the pictures.

Yay! You made it!

This week’s first trailer (and nearly the only trailer worth talking about) is actually pretty good. If you check out their iTunes trailer page, you’ll find 2 trailers and a TV spot. They each use all the same footage, but are built slightly differently to sell the movie. They are extremely successful at it, because I’m getting excited for this film even as they feed me all reasons why it’s going to suck so much.

We’ll cover the most obvious first: there’s no Bloom or Knightley in this one. What does the trailer do? It says “Fuck it, we don’t need them!” and it says that by not mentioning them at all. I’d be willing to bet the movie does almost the same.  It is a rather brash non-statement, considering they were the stars and romantic leads of the series, even if they were kinda lame.

We don't need your weird teeth or his giant forehead!

Then, they go ahead and throw this title card up there:

I think his first suggestion was "more dance numbers"

…Because the guy who directed Chicago is gonna do a much better job that the guy who directed Rango, The Ring and every other “Pirates” movie. But I’m ignoring that because they just had Jack Sparrow telling me about mermaids, zombies and Blackbeard.

These are all a little weird to be showing up in this universe just now. The zombies not so much, but I’m of the mind that zombies can show up anywhere at anytime (that’s why it’s always good to have a zombie contingency plan). Still, it seems like they’re trying to cram a bit too much fantasy with the zombies and mermaids, on top of all the other crap they have already piled in. From what I recall, the only fantasy element of the original Pirates were the moonlight-skeleton-pirates, who were also the namesake and central conflict of the whole damn film. I guess they have since created more of an “anything goes” universe.

…But then the throw in Blackbeard – a real Pirate who was a real badass.

Don't be fooled; Blackbeard later slit the artist's throat for making him look like a pansy.

To my knowledge, they have yet to add a real pirate to the main cast of characters. I know it seems trivial, but if you’re gonna mix fantasy and reality, this isn’t the guy to start with. He has a history that makes even the most ridiculous fake pirate story seem tame and boring. You can’t just draw some guy and name him Blackbeard. People out there care about this stuff. I don’t know who… I’m just saying, they’re out there. And I’m definitely not one of them…

On a side note, who are these people?

Besides a half naked mermaid and a sweaty dude

When I logged onto the iTunes trailer page today, these are the people who popped up. At first I thought I had mistakenly clicked on Global Asylum’s response to Pirates of the Caribbean, but apparently they don’t have one yet. Yet.

To be fair, probably better than Battle LA

Turns out, these two are the apparent replacement of Knightley and Bloom. It’s hard to tell though, because we’ve never heard of these actors and they barely show up in the trailer at all. I didn’t even notice them until I took a closer look.

In the end, this trailer is, in fact, worth watching…unless you’re gonna see the movie. After watching this trailer, the movie is just gonna be more of a let down.

Midnight in Paris or Woody Allen’s Parisian Vacation With his Friends

I got tired of liking Woody Allen films sometime before I was born. If you think his films are self aggrandizing and monotonous, then you’re probably not the type to cream all over his trailer when announces a new movie. In fact, you’re probably not even going to watch the trailer. That’d be a good idea.

This trailer reads like a terrible travel ad campaign for Paris. There is no attempt at setting up a story. If it weren’t for the trademark Allen-esque exchanges that went stale a few decades ago, you might not even recognize that this was actually a scripted film intended for entertainment. You’d probably just figure it was a guy who went to Paris with a camera and a bunch of his famous actor friends. Which it pretty much was.

And on that note, where the hell are all of these famous actor friends? Take a good look at the names on this poster:

Marion Cotillard was barely in this trailer. If you can find Kathy Bates or Adrien Brody I’ll give you a blow job.* And they’re at the top of the list! It also took me a second viewing to catch Michael Sheen, but that’s because he sports a beard and an incredible American accent. I would say it looks like a great performance wasted on a crappy movie, but he’s Michael Sheen. It’s not like he’s capable of bad acting.

*Blow jobs not actually awarded.

The Lion of Judah or The Movie Without any Fucking Lions

I told you this was a rough week. This is a digitally animated film from family animated films, the people who brought you Tugger: The Jeep Who Wanted to Fly. In that case, I guess it’s not surprising that 50% of this trailer is a dancing chicken.

They open on this for about 15 seconds, and then they cut back to it. Twice.

Now I don’t know what you know about “The Lion of Judah,” but depending on your religion, it’s one of these three things:

Guess which one their film is about

Because this is an animated film about animals, they must be using animals allegorically, so that means the the Lion of Judah is gonna be a lion, right? And a lion, no matter what the form, is gonna be fun, right? Right?!


Well, looks like they screwed us out of the lion and turned Judah into a stupid lamb instead. Because, you know, the Lion of Judah is Jesus…and Jesus is the lamb of God…and…stuff. You know, the Bible really mixes metaphors quite a bit.

This is the movie Rottentomatoes currently has listed third for films opening this week. Not a good sign…

Bloodworth or Kris Kristofferson’s “Crazy Heart”

At first, I thought this was just a completely illegitimate ripoff of 2009’s Crazy Heart.

Why would anyone think that?

Then I took a closer look at the Bloodworth poster. Turns out this is a completely legitimate ripoff of Crazy Heart.

Yes, T Bone Burnett, the man and music that the original Jeff Bridges, Academy Award Winning movie was based on, also produced the music for this film.

So he writes music for another movie. He’s allowed to do that. Can’t fault a guy for trying to make money. That’s why my fault isn’t with T Bone. It’s with the filmmakers who are trying to make bank strictly the success of the original. I mean, the poster is exactly the same and they even have the audacity to mention Crazy Heart and T Bone right under the title. It’s not like Crazy Heart posters said “Based on the guy who wrote music for Walk the Line.

On top of that, the trailer looks like a Crazy Heart remake with a crappier cast. And any Val Kilmer fans should take offense to that, because he’s the worst of the bunch. His southern accent, what little of it is featured in the trailer, sounds like someone just beat a slow-talking man in the jaw with a lead pipe.

If this movie is worth watching, it’s for the music alone, which actually sounded really good in the trailer (big surprise there).

We are The Night or Vampires as they Ought to Be

Okay. Last week I bitched about what shitty vampire movies are coming out of Hollywood. Well, here’s an example of what other people are doing.

To be fair, their poster does look like a soft core porn:

Not that that's a bad thing...

But that’s okay, because they get the vampire thing right. Yes, vampires are beautiful, but they are also incredibly powerful, dangerous, evil and sexual – and not just in a pseud-pedophilic, teenager-with-his-shirt-off kind of way.

It's more of an all-over-the-spectrum kind of way

Real vampires take your soul, and that appears to be what this movie is about.

Still… the more I watch this trailer, the more I notice something is off…

…Oh, it’s all of the dialogue. Instead of making us read stupid subtitles in the trailer, they decided to dub over the original German with voice actors, and tried to cut around everything so it looks like the words match their lips. In all fairness, the editors did a great job. It took a second viewing for me to catch it. However, this decision completely backfired on them. First off, they cast a girl whose voice was more appropriate for an evil IBM-esque super-computer in a crappy anime:

And on top of that, I can’t figure out whether they just did this to the trailer, or if they decided to release the film dubbed. Which sucks (get it? sucks??) because this is something I might actually want to watch someday

Other than the horrible voice actors, this looks like a fairly strong foreign-indie horror release.

Cost of a Soul or People Very Happy They Got to Make a Movie

This movie follows the lives of one Marine and one Army Soldier who return from their tours in Iraq only to find further turmoil in their old, slum neighborhoods. It’s well tread territory, and the heavy handed writing featured in the trailer isn’t helped by the hammed up acting. I don’t want to be too hard on these guys, though. The director, Sean Kirkpatrick, is a newcomer who won Rogue Pictures “Big Break Movie Contest” and got to make this film. Independent companies do these competitions on a somewhat regular basis, and I feel like they only do them as a form of self-promotion. They typically pick stories too big for a small budget, and then they don’t give the winners the money or the freedom to take the film where it needs to go. And once the film is made, they release it on one of the worst weekends of the year.

That being said, this is by far not the worst looking trailer of the week, and the director shows signs of being very adept. I did a quick search on this guy, and from everything I could find, he looks really happy. Like a guy who just got to make is first movie. So good job, man.

35 and Ticking or The Dude with the Milk Jug

When did producing a black independent drama become making a film almost indiscernible from the latest Tyler Perry movie? This doesn’t look nearly as bad as one his Perry’s films, but it’s not much better.

Is it bad that the only actor I recognize in the cast is Kevin Hart, and I don’t know why I recognize him? I also don’t know why he’s holding a milk jug all the time:

And he holds it throughout the trailer

I’m sure it will be explained thoroughly in the movie, and perhaps that’s their intent. If the question of why he’s holding that damn jug bothers me enough, then I’ll go see the film. Instead, I feel like I’m on the outside of a big inside joke, and they’re rubbing it in my face. So I’m gonna do what I normally do when I’m left out of the joke.

It's something like this.

Hard Breakers or What the Fuck?

I really wonder how some projects get the greenlight. This trailer is worth watching solely for how laughably bad it is. First off: Tom Arnold and Chris Kattan are in it. If that’s not a warning sign, I don’t know what is.

Just a brief summary (which won’t do it justice), two blond chicks whose entire wardrobe consists of bikinis get their “big break” in Hollywood. This big break happens to be in pornography (duh). Chris Kattan is the porn star who they have to work with. None of this seems to have anything to do with the plot.

I can't tell if the joke is on him or on us.

About one minute into the trailer one of the girls actually says “What’s with men today?” Yeah? What is with all of the men you meet? Maybe it’s that they’re all in pornography. Just a thought. Anyway, this conversation leads to the girls coming up with their big plan: find a hot guy, beat him over the head with a surfboard, take him back to you apartment and fuck him.

And that’s what the rest of the movie is about.

Don’t ask me how they knock a guy completely unconscious with a piece of fiberglass. Also, don’t ask why they need to do that. They could just as easily walk up to the guy and tell him that they both want to sleep with him. At the same time. I guarantee this will work a high percentage of the time.

After about 1:45 seconds, you’ll realize the trailer is still going on and inevitably stop watching. If you do that you’ll miss this really crappy title card:

" I could have just stopped after I found Myriad Pro, but then I went all out and added a drop shadow!" - Title Designer

I don’t know what this means. Someone gave them 6 stars out of 10? Hooray, you got a 60? You’re not a complete failure in the eyes of one critic? It’s definitely not the date. Maybe it means something in reference to the movie. Maybe it’s a name of one of their actors.

Oh, and I haven’t even touched on the worst part of this movie. Believe it or not, the director of this opus was a woman:

I have set my gender back a generation.

Louder Than a Bomb but Quieter Than a Really Really Big Bomb

After wading through that river of sewage, we reach the trailer of the week. I have a lot of respect for spoken word artists. I know how difficult it is to speak eloquently, clearly and quickly; if you’ve listened to one of my videos, you can tell that I’m not very good at it. It turns out, I have a very lazy tongue.

That's not what your mom said last night.

Louder than a bomb features competing groups of high school students who all appear to be excellent spoken word artists. They all have really hard life stories, too. It’s not the best documentary to premier this year, but it is definitely going to be worth watching when it shows up at 8:00am on IFC six months from now.

The quick fate of any good documentary.


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