Pay Full Price
Fantastic Mr. Fox: The melding of the stop-motion animation with the deliberately, even self-consciously, “quirkie” indie-film aesthetic works surprisingly well. That the trailer is somewhat suggestive of an Ocean’s 11 for furries is also just cognitively disorienting enough to be intriguing.

Gentlemen Broncos: Not thrilled about lisping, effeminate men in the trailer being used for laughs, but in context it appears to be an actual story point. Plus the cast is strongly appealing. And it just looks so peculiar that I’m intrigued. There’s a real honesty to the way it captures bad adolescent sci-fi writing. Plus, Sam Rockwell.

The Box: This is here pretty much just on the good will that Richard Kelly has earned from me as a film-goer. That it’s based on a Richard Matheson story, whose work I tend to associate with barely concealed misogyny, wouldn’t normally be a plus, except that from the looks of the trailer it’s obvious that they’ve borrowed pretty much one element of the source material only for the film.

The Wolfman: Oh, that looks simply beautiful. And, if nothing else, it’s about damn time that we got a slick antidote to all the vampire and zombie dross that has been infecting movie screens for far too long.

The Men Who Stare At Goats: The cast alone makes this pretty much a must watch. This is also one of those rare “based on a ‘true’ story” types of films that I will see. Partly because of the not so subtle suggestion here that all the psychic talk is utter bullshit. But also because the film-makers get that the US government really and truly spending who knows how much money on phony spoon-benders is hilarious.

The House of the Devil: I’m not a fan of the “girl in peril” genre, and Satanism is fairly middle of the road territory when it comes to my tastes in horror, but this has a really lovely 70s horror feel to it. It’s channeling Rosemary’s Baby and The Sentinel really strongly, and as Pal Ken points out, setting it in the 80s, in the midst of media fueled “Satanic Panic” stories suggests some really smart people behind this.

A Single Man: It looks beautiful. And the cast is excellent. I’m probably being unfairly skeptical about a fashion designer’s ability to write and direct a film, as that’s my only reservation at all.

The Lovely Bones: Peter Jackson going back to Heavenly Creatures territory, and using special effects to enhance a human story is a very, very good thing. And, okay, that there are mystery elements doesn’t hut either.

Legion: Oh, my. What at first looks to be a retread of Demon Knight ends up looking more like the action film version of Preacher. I’m not made of stone, people. I don’t expect much from it, but the glorious over-the-topness of this seems worthwhile.

Rentable
Paranormal Activity: I like haunted house stories, but it’s a genre that doesn’t seem to translate to film very well. And here we’ve got two things that signal “don’t watch” to me; night-vision camera footage of the audience and low-budget fauxumentary aesthetics in the film itself. But it’s a haunted house movie. Hell, I sat through a haunted house movie with Billie Piper in it, I can probably sit through this.

The Road: This is a borderline case, as I’m one of those horrible people who hasn’t been impressed with McCarthy’s work. That the trailer opens with scenes of Emmerichesque disaster-porn is also not a promising sign.

Astro Boy: I’ve no emotional attachment to Astro Boy as a property, but this looks like just about every other CGI action cartoon that’s ever been made. Nothing about it, at first glance, gives me any indication that this story needed to be told with Astro Boy instead of Generic Robot Boy.

Inception: “A Film By Christopher Nolan” Okay, interesting. “Leonardo Dicaprio” Hrm. Oh, and look, camera zooms through CGI city-scapes, rather than any hint of character or story. Yeah.

Whip It: Beauty-queen turns roller-girl. Okay, it’s veering dangerously close to manic pixie girl territory, there, but I’ll give it a shot. There’s a nice balance in the trailer between low-key comedy and not intolerable family drama.

The Vampire’s Assistant: I’ve never made my (strong and probably irrational) feelings about goddamn vampire movies a secret. There’s only a very small number I can find even tolerable, and those tend to be the ones that take the core of the idea and do something new and interesting with it, or at least take it as seriously as it deserves. This looks to fall into the “taking it as seriously as it deserves” camp, which is not at all, which gives it some (slight) appeal.

St. Trinians: I’m fairly certain that this won’t be “good” by any of the conventional definitions, but I’m so sick of movies where the “weird” girls get a make-over, it’s refreshing to see the formula reversed.

Solomon Kane: Oh, hey they made a sequel to Van Helsing

Law Abiding Citizen: Revenge fantasy films are tricky. Most of them end up being, whether intended or not, campaign commercials for right-wing politics. And, oh yeah, there’s some potentially troubling material here that seems geared towards the privileged who feel disenfranchised. But, at a certain point, it’s still big dumb explosions. And there’s a certain visceral appeal in bid dumb explosions, even if you feel dirty afterwards for enjoying them.

Shutter Island: I’ve tried to read Lehane novels, really. I just can’t get through them. But I’ve enjoyed the previous films based on his books, and this is essentially a locked-room mystery, so I can get behind that. Now, if only Dicaprio would make a film that could get me to stop thinking of a kid playing dress up in oversized clothes every time I look at him…

The Informant: I cut Soderbergh a lot of slack, and while Matt Damon playing a mid-level manager with delusions of “bringing down” a company looks funny, it looks like the kind of humor that doesn’t really work for me. Much as I just don’t find The Office funny because it’s just depressingly accurate in its depiction of incompetence, this looks like it’s just a little too truthful.

I’d Rather Watch Megan Fox “Act”
Dorian Gray: Colin Firth is usually watchable, but the makers of this film seemed to have missed all of Wilde’s intended subtext, apparently to make the film appeal to the tweener demographic that’s into moody horror themes these days.

New Moon: So, I’m supposed to feel…bad? for the girl who can’t choose between the two murderous supernatural horrors stalking her? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. While the asinine displays of comics fans towards Twilight fans made me more tolerant of the Twilight fans, these films still look like utter ass.

Youth In Revolot: Yeah, there’s pretty much no fucking way.

Jennifer’s Body: There’s a reason why this group of films is under this header. Also, Diablo Cody continues to prove she was a one-trick pony.

Saw VI: I can’t fucking believe this franchise hasn’t made the jump to “direct to DVD” status yet.

The Fourth Kind: I might have felt some charity towards the film if they hadn’t tried to pull a “this is all REAL! Based on a True Story!” bullshit hook. I’m all for creepy horror films. I’m not at all for anything that encourages credulity in a country where over a quarter of the population doesn’t accept the validity of evolutionary theory. So you can take your “aliens are abducting Alaskans” film and consign it to the garbage bin, thanks.

Avatar: Sure, you could go pay $12 to see this in digital “Real-D” projection…or you could go watch a bunch of video-game cut scenes on YouTube.

Old Dogs: So, it’s funny because people are getting hurt? And it’s a children’s movie about middle-aged men finding fatherhood challenging? How does stuff like this even get made?

Disney’s A Christmas Carol: What is there to like about this? Motion captured animation is ugly as sin, Jim Carrey has never been funny (and now that he and his girl-friend are pitching dangerous anti-vaccination woo there’s a moral imperative not to support his films), and this looks like it’s taking enough liberties with the source material to be problematic but not enough to be doing something interesting.

Zombieland: I’m so ready for the nerd and hipster fixations with zombies to fucking die already. “Oooh, look, zombies in a theme park! How utterly original! That’s not at all just a tired horror film cliche with added zombies at all!” For fuck’s sake…

The Last Airbender: I’m sure the kiddies will enjoy it, but Shyamalan has burned all his bridges with me. Not going to give that guy another chance to make me feel like I just wasted two hours of my life.

Couples Retreat: Ah, straight people with problems. They really don’t make enough of those kinds of movies, do they?

The Book of Eli: We seem to be on the verge of a come-back for post-apocalyptic sci-fi films. None of them can ever live up to the majesty that was Radioactive Dreams.

Tron Legacy: Why?

Adventures of Power: I really hate this genre of “allegedly lovable, possibly retarded, loser makes good.” Yes, there is comedy to be had in delusions of competence. But that usually works better when the object of that comedy isn’t so painfully pathetic to begin with. These films feature characters that no sane person, under any circumstance, would want to be around. And making fun of those characters feels like the awkward kid pushing the kid with the club foot down at the playground to get a laugh from the jock.

Alice in Wonderland: This doesn’t look remotely accurate to the source material. Ah, well, I suppose it doesn’t matter. The real point here is to drive merchandise sales in very specific demographics, not actually create a film worth watching.

The Stepfather: I’ve mentioned this before, but it was bad enough when the good horror films were being remade poorly. Now that the lousy horror films are being remade, and made even worse, as a fan of the genre, I despair.

Pandorum: Dammit! I had been looking forward to this, back when it was being presented as “astronauts discover they are not alone on ship; weirdness occurs.” Now it’s just another Alien retread monster movie in space, and I’ve seen plenty of those already.

Daybreakers: Anytime a trailer begins with “Imagine a World” you know you’re in for crap. Especially when the world we’re meant to examine is suspiciously just like ours, but with a “twist” that logically would mean it couldn’t be anything remotely like ours. And that’s what we have here. It’s vampires, but they’re the majority! It’s been done…it doesn’t work as a concept.

17 Responses to “Movie Trailer Reviews: Fall Is Here”
  1. Hayden says:

    Robert Zemeckis taking on “A Christmas Carol” isn’t that bad compared to him taking on The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine,” using 3D animation.

    Is nothing sacred anymore?

  2. Dan Kelly says:

    Good assessments, Dorian. I’m not sure that I agree with you on the original Stepfather though. Not a great film, but I thought Terry O’Quinn did a good job. He was certainly scarier and smarter than a lot of the slasher characters of the 80s. But yeah, that remake looks horrible.

  3. I haven’t seen anything about “Dorian Gray”. The only thing I knew was that the boy who played Caspian was going to play Dorian. I was hopeful, since I really love Oscar Wilde. If all they did was make it what you’ve said, though, I think watching it will piss me off.

    Also, I have heard SO many good things about “A Single Man”.

    I will probably still see “Alice In Wonderland” out of curiosity. Also, Hubby will want to see anything with Anne Hathaway.

  4. Captain Splendid says:

    Gotta agree with you on Pandorum. Looked OK until I saw the new trailer last night with all the wee beasties slithering about. My brain shut down so fast I think I stuttered for a few seconds after that.

  5. Jim says:

    Pandorum also appears to rip off the whole “supernatural – BUT IN SPACE! Hellraiser – BUT IN SPACE!” vibe from Event Horizon. Which I guess seems appropriate – I just assumed this was a Paul W.S. Anderson movie anyway.

  6. Alan says:

    The more I hear about THE ROAD (and McCarthy’s work in general) the less I can differentiate between literary critics and peer pressured reactionary gun-nuts wannabes survivalists fans of 80’s-90’s homoerotic-macho action films (just put Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson or Charles Bronson – or Viggo nowadays, really – in the post-apocalyptic versions of conservative view of societal decay fighting teh degenerate hordes in Frank Millerian scenarios etc). Is it something about being self-conscious about being “bookish” and “effete” that you have to kneejerkly pound your chest about manliness and go to the post-action-films era’s version of Hemingway?

  7. Evan Waters says:

    SHUTTER ISLAND’s actually been moved to early next year, to save money on promotion or something. Bit of a shame- I like Scorcese the more he steps out of his comfort zone.

  8. Maxtothemax says:

    If they’re smart about the Tron sequel (which they won’t be) and try to play up how campy and ill-thought out it is, then it might be decent. Plus, Daft Punk soundtrack, so it’s got that going for it. Otherwise, spot on assessments.

  9. DS says:

    Oh wow…I was completely unaware of that Dorian Gray movie. I admit to being a little curious, but once they started showing Dorian’s “sins,” it’s pretty clear they’ve missed the point.

  10. M.A. Masterson says:

    Why is Sam Rockwell playing Alan Moore? Did I click on the wrong link?

  11. Ian Brill says:

    Sounds like you clicked on the right link, Mark!

  12. Prankster says:

    I’ve seen Daybreakers, and it’s great, precisely because it’s meant as a response to other movies (or, more specifically, the book I Am Legend). Who doesn’t read that book and go “OK, but wouldn’t the vampires run out of blood after that?”

    The trailer gives too much away, though.

  13. Bill Reed says:

    I think Zombieland looks great. Yes, there’s a glut of zombies in every medium, but I can always make time for a seemingly clever new zombie flick, even if nothing will top Zombi 2’s zombie/shark fight.

  14. Evan Waters says:

    On the one hand, VAMPIRE’S ASSISTANT has John C. Reilly and Jane Krakowski. On the other, it’s clearly trying way too hard to be an emo/goth franchise, with the “Cirque De Freak” supertitle and the very polished and slick “freaky” aesthetic. It really looks like something dreamed up in a studio’s marketing department.

    Then again, John C. Reilly. I’m sure he’s been in bad movies but I can’t think of one offhand.

  15. Dorian says:

    VAMPIRE’S ASSISTANT is based on a young adult novel series by Darren Shan. It may be cynical and exploitative, but that’s the nature of YA publishing as well.

    STEP BROTHERS
    THE PROMOTION
    WALK HARD
    TENACIOUS D IN THE PICK OF DESTINY
    TALLADEGA NIGHTS
    Of the films I’ve seen, Reilly’s been in more bad than good.

  16. Jim Kosmicki says:

    The problem with the original Stepfather was the rest of the cast. Terry O’Quinn’s performance stayed with most people who saw it. I remember that my wife and I saw this and Jack’s Back on the same night — and remembered both fondly for many, many years.

  17. Mark Clapham says:

    I can’t see the name Terry O’Quinn without thinking ‘don’t you just love that moustache?’, years after he shaved it off.

    Looking forward to Fantastic Mr Fox an enormous amount, but then I’m a total Wes Anderson junkie.

    Tron: Legacy seems to be a ‘revisiting a children’s story as adults’ type thing, relating to the original in the way that Flashman relates to Tom Brown’s Schooldays. If that’s the case then it’s a very bold thing for Disney to do, and a very wise pick of a property – Tron is so totally locked in to the 80s that its unlikely to have the self-refreshing audience of kids that the ‘perennial’ Disney animations do, so the main audience are likely to be adults. Of course I could be totally wrong. Or it could be rubbish anyway.

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