Most months, Ken Lowery and I look at a selection of trailers for forthcoming films, to see what’s worth our time and what’s a damning indictment of modern society.
It’s the middle of summer, so it’s big bloated tentpole season. God help us all.

July 3rd

The Lone Ranger

DW: I still have a vague, lingering child hood attachment to the idea of the Lone Ranger, but there’s just still too much dumb here for me to take any of this seriously. Even if I were willing to overlook the incredibly fucking offensive casting of a white man as a Native American in 20-fucking-13, all that’s being pushed here is a big, loud, dumb action movie, and my patience with those has worn bone thin. Yes, yes, there is something to be said for spectacle, but I am an old man now and I need some steak with my sizzle.

KL: Had this movie come out five to ten years ago, I’d have been intrigued. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a studio that squandered the promise of high-adventure live-action movies as thoroughly as Disney has since the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean. That franchise took a sharp dip south and most of my hopes along with it. Like a moron, I went ahead and saw Prince of Persia anyway and… yikes. John Carter, while much more a passion project than a carefully constructed simulacra of entertainment, was no less dreary.

What to say about Depp that hasn’t already been said? Here is a man who had a world of options available to him and chose hollow caricature. I suppose that makes him the ideal masthead to put on this multi-billion-dollar sinking ship.

July 5th

Hammer of the Gods

KL: I wonder if there’s something about living in England that makes you look around at all the beautiful, mountainous country and say, “yep, we need to shoot a Viking movie.” Which, to be honest, I’m pretty OK with. Something about the swords and the Pictish make-up and all the talk about what the gods do or do not want gets me smiling, even if I know the actual product is usually 80-90% horse shit. That most of the talent here, from the director on down, is transitioning from TV leaves the whole enterprise’s pedigree as a big question. But I’m glad it’s there, if that makes any sense.

DW: Grim and gritty pseudo-Medieval stories with folks with British accents certainly do seem like a thing now, don’t they? I find myself intrigued, despite the action-movie cliche beats that hit the trailer. A lot of that is, even though much of this feels awfully familiar, it still is going into areas that don’t get covered all that much. That hope for the novel that so frequently disappoints me.

July 12th

Pacific Rim

KL: Here’s my thing with Guillermo Del Toro: once he hits a certain price point on his budgets, I start the checkout process. Maybe it’s him, maybe it’s me, but once his toy box gets big enough it’s like he loses focus on what makes an audience attach to a movie beyond the “well that’s kind of cool, I guess” level. Yeah, I know, it’s “just a movie,” but there’s doing this sort of thing well and then there’s doing this sort of thing noisily. We should stop confusing the two.

Or, possibly, I am an old man and kids of today will talk about this movie like we talk about Jaws. I sincerely doubt it, but I’m willing to leave room for error.

DW: Del Toro is one of those directors that I feel like I should like, but when I sit down and actually think about his films, and I’ve somehow managed to see almost all of them, it seems like I didn’t actually enjoy them. But I think a film where not-Godzilla fights not-Mazinger Z with an ridiculously large budget I think finally broke the “yeah, sure, go see it, it’s a Del Toro film” thinking I was having. The film is clearly pandering to an audience of like-minded folks who I presume will get excited about it, but brother, that is not me.

As you say, maybe kids will dig it, but it doesn’t feel like that’s an audience they’re even trying to draw in with those ads of big black things hitting big black things at night.

July 19th

R.I.P.D.

KL: Rest In Police Department!

Not a half-bad idea, but it seems like there’s one too many layers on the high concept. Do we need the bit about how they look like different people to the living, so we can have lots of Hilarious Hijinx about the Hot Lady and the Busted Old Asian Guy? I wonder if some of those hijinx might involve hilarious make-outs! C’mon, guys, just get on with the Ghost Cop stuff.

Robert Schwentke is directing. He directed Red, a decent cheeseburger of a movie without much visual distinguishment. I’m expecting much the same here just with a much larger budget.

DW: I can’t tell if the conceit is really dumb or really smart. Yeah, the execution is looking to be a really mixed bag, but the idea itself…I just can’t make up my mind.

I’m in that minority of people who still really likes Ryan Reynolds, though, so I suspect that’s going to be the determining factor if this gets a look in.

The Conjuring

DW: I should be all over a period haunted house film. It is like perfectly pitched at me and my tastes, and the cast is a bunch of people I really like. Yes, they’re over-selling the “true story” nonsense, as tends to happen with these things, but that’s not actually what’s making me really hesitant about this. It’s the James Wan angle. I’ve given him chances before, and he just continues to make movies that frustrate or infuriate me. As a follow-up to Insidious, which I especially did not like, I can’t see any real hopes for this.

KL: But for a great cast, this would be an easy pass. Vera Farmiga is one of the very best things American movies has going for it, and I have an abiding fondness for Ron Livingston that possibly outweighs its justification. Still, probably not. I don’t know what you call someone who loves ghost stories who is mostly pretty bored with the ghost stories he’s seeing but whatever that is, that is what I am.

Only God Forgives

DW: Refn and Gosling’s previous collaboration, Drive turned out to be a surprisingly polarizing film, with many people (like me) appreciating it’s deliberate pace and style, the acting approaches the actors used, and lots of people finding it either pretentious, boring or both.

Early critical reception to this has been mixed to negative, but to be honest a lot of the extremely negative reviews have felt a little back-lashy, as if some of the critics are unloading on this film because they would really rather be unloading on Drive.

The Oedipally undertoned revenge film plot doesn’t exactly thrill me, and the white man versus Asian gangster thing could be problematic, but I liked Drive enough that I’m willing to at least give this a chance.

KL: There’s basically no way I can objectively appraise this – when the mixed-to-negative reaction you talked about poured out of Cannes, I basically did the movie snob equivalent of putting my hands on my ears and going “LA LA LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING.”

Could be it doesn’t work out, but Refn’s personal track record with me is good, and I have no doubt he’ll give me more beautiful, clashing color schemes to soak in. I do hope Gosling brings more to bear than the high-functioning violent autistic thing he had going in Drive. Once or twice, fine. More than that… we got a problem.

July 26th

The Wolverine

DW: I think we’re reaching the point where the contest between my appreciation of handsome men running around with their shirts off and my distaste for biglouddumb and creepy exoticization are just about evenly matched. I suspect I am going to end up wanting to see this, but man do I feel bad about wanting to see this.

KL: I can plead out on precedent. The “noble samurai” stuff is my least-favorite Wolverine stuff, and that coupled with this production’s rather troubled history make this an easy pass. Now if Hugh Jackman also runs around with his pants off, then maybe. Because that is a handsome man.

The To Do List

KL: Women can also write and direct comedies where we are to believe their strikingly beautiful leads are social outcasts!

Ah, I’m just being snarky. If this is another trickle preceding the tidal wave of women auteurs then, please, bring it on. I am downright grateful for the opportunity to see a (straight, admittedly) take on the virginity movie from the other side of the aisle.

But I’m not gonna get all Social Justice Tumblr up in here. This looks pretty funny to me, and there’s a murderer’s row of talent on display. Aubrey Plaza’s dry-as-dust thing doesn’t do it for a lot of people, but she cracks me the hell up, as does just about everyone else on show here. Bill Hader basically just has to wave and I’ll start laughing.

DW: Yep, I’m all for shifting the axis on the teen gross-out/make-out comedy formula (I still have an admittedly unjustifiable fondness for the Not Another Gay Movie movies), and there is just an absolute bevy of people I really like who are really funny just hanging out in this thing. It doesn’t hurt that we seem to be hitting a spot where female-led comedies are being taken seriously (so to speak), and yeah I can’t help but think that’s a good thing overall.

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