Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trailer Trash: GI Joe Retaliation

I only saw the first GI Joe because I heard so many reviews saying "Its so bad its good" or "Its the next best MST3K movie". Actually, it was a very milquetoast action movie, and nowhere near as outrageously stupid or as "in your face" as something like the Transformers series. The original's fundamental flaw in my opinion was just how it felt like it was poorly put together by an amateur novice, and I think a lot of that blame rests on the shoulders of the first film's director. It was a very typical of a mid August action movie, and I can't really pick on it any more than that because I can't really get mad at a movie when the project is already so defective from the start (ex: Twilight).

However, I guess it made enough money to warrant a sequel, but the producers wanted to protect their investment. Given that they knew they were going up against a summer destined to be ruled by "The Dark Knight Rises" they brought out the syringes of Adrenaline and Testosterone and pumped this movie up!

Dwayne Johnson is leading this time, and thank God. Dwayne has a more experience with action cheese and better screen presence. By which I mean he takes up most of the screen. It makes you wonder how the Cobra troops were able to miss a target that big when he was sitting completely still in the water. The power of badassery! Thats how!

Jonathan Pryce apparently didn't get enough of playing the villain in "Tomorrow Never Dies" because hes back at it again.

We've got an "A-Team" kind of set up (they should thankful this wasn't released last summer!) and these build up knowing that its our small little band versus the world. It was shocking to see a break-out character like Snake Eyes being incarcerated. But then the Cobra flag is raised at the White House and banners form the Cobra eyes. The impact of that hit like a punch to the gut. Its a sequence that is simple, iconic and powerful, and sets a stage of hopelessness for this "Empire Strikes Back" vibe they have going on.

There are plenty of unique action scenes on display. My favorite is the mountainside sword fight.

Bruce Willis' apperance at the end is akin to Josh Brolin's apperance at the end of the Men in Black 3 Trailer. If the action was the icing on the cake, Bruce is the sprinkles on top.

Trailer Grade: B+

Trailer Trash: Men In Black 3

Ah, Men in Black.  I loved it as a kid and I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed it as an adult. I'd argue that it with the possible exception of "Jurassic Park" that this was the most creative and enjoyable "popcorn" movie of the 1990s.

When I was younger, I was certain this would become the next "Adventure Trilogy" series in the vein of Indiana Jones. Sadly, such was not the case because Men In Black 2 was an abysmal disappointment, so I was surprised when I saw set photos for a third movie. After all it had been ten years since "2" and a decade is usually around the time a film franchise gets a reboot rather than a sequel.

As for the trailer itself, I think it shows us a bit too much. The fade to black/ fade in edit in trailers has become a big pet peeve of mine as it treats the audience like it doesn't have any attention span. "This image has been on screen for five seconds! Quick, cut to something new before they get bored!"

The "hook", and really all we need to establish in this trailer is the "save the future" plot and Josh Brolin as Young K. Incidentally, that is a brilliant casting choice and it sets up for some potential role reversal with J as the seen it all mentor and K as the new kid. Not the mention possibilities presented in the '60s setting. I guess the producers have been doing their homework by watching "Mad Men".

Bottom line, I think you could have cut thirty seconds worth of establishing shots, and put more attention on setting up the characters, the establishing the humorous tone that were the heart of the original rather than close up shots of gadgets. I suspect that the trailer is loaded with some many dramatic pauses to build this "mystery" and hide the fact that Tommy Lee Jones will likely have a smaller role. If it the trailer had shown more scenes of the two them together I think that it might have packed a bigger punch. But if Tommy's part is small like I suspect with an appearance at the beginning and the end with Brolin in the bulk of it in the middle, then you would just get people complaining about false advertising. 

Trailer Grade: B

Trailer Trash: The Three Stooges

Theres no denying that in today's media, brand recognition is everything. In a world were we have seven different ways in instanteously send ideas to a dozen other people at the same time, you need something distinctly memorable to get peoples attention and hold on to it. Like it or not that means that remakes, reboots and revivals of older franchises are the front runners in entertainment, because they carry names that go back a ways in people's memories and make quick identification and easy marketing. As a result we get movies like "The Three Stooges".

I've got to admit I don't know what I was expecting. I had heard this was in development for a couple years, but I guess when I heard "Three Stooges Movie" I kept thinking back to that made for TV docudrama they about the guys who played the original stooges.

Having seen the trailer, I still don't know what to say. At first I was surprised that the film was taking place in the present rather than the Stooges original Great Depression setting, but then I remember that the Stooges had a C del trope That and Hollywood likes to have its cake and eat it too, mixing "classic" characters with modern styles and attitudes, often resulting in a mixed bag.

Best I can say is that the people behind the film did their homework, as the slapstick scenes feel like they're perfectly lifted right from the shorts, so its very much in the spirit of the original, for good and for bad. That and Moe gets to poke Snooki from Jersey Shore in the eyes. Bwhahaha! Yes, not since Curly dressed up as Hitler have the Stooges provided such biting, edgy humor that is relevant to our current culture!

Trailer Grade: C