Day Seventy-Two – New Releases

13 03 2010

As the sun begins to shine on Toronto, the movies in the theater start getting better and better in quality. It’s really about time. Here are some of the ones that I’ve seen recently.

Repo Men

‘Repo Men’ is not a movie about exploring or explaining the fantastical world where you can buy organs for exorbitant amounts of money, knowing that if you can’t make the payments, the company that supplied the organ will retrieve it in the most in-humane and gory fashion possible. It asks that you just accept this reality and see what happens when Remy is thrown to the dogs. It’s not about the world, it’s about Remy. It gets a bit crazy before the end, but all those problems are explained away.

Rating: 75 (3.5 Stars)

How to Train Your Dragon

I credit my enjoyment of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ directly to my avid fandom of ‘The Dog Whisperer’. It’s almost as if Hiccup watched a marathon of Cesar training out of control dogs and tried it on a bunch of fire-breathing dragons. Hiccup’s voice does get on the annoying side at times, but suits his character. The flying scenes smelled of ‘Avatar’, not really adding anything to the plot. Just flying for the sake of throwing things at your face in 3D. The ending was refreshing too. Fun flick.

Rating: 75 (3.5 Stars)

Cop Out

I’m totally up for movies that are totally derivative of other movies. Tarantino made a career of these types of films, but Kevin Smith should stay as far away from the genre. The opening sequence, where Paul says his interrogation style is ‘homage’ to movies, should have been enough. Rather, every time there’s a movie reference, the characters feel the need to footnote it. “That was Robocop!” I got it. An homage includes an original twist on the bit; instead ‘Cop Out’ is just a witless rehash.

Rating: 5 (0 Stars)

It really sucks that Cop Out was as bad as it was. I was really looking forward to it. I spent more than enough time on this blog talking about it, but when all the awful reviews came out, I delayed my viewing by about a month. I wish I had delayed it even longer.





Day Fifty-Five – A Matter of Timing

24 02 2010

Timing is an important thing. I’m posting this post a day late, and clearly it won’t get the time it probably deserves when I post today’s post. It gets squeezed out.

The same logic could be used for movie releases.

Last year, the tubes of the internet were flabbergasted when Paramount announced that they were pushing the release of Shutter Island to February, effectively taking it out of the running for this year’s Oscars. Having seen the film, I don’t think it would have been nominated anyway, but that’s not why the move was such a good idea.

Shutter Island had the advantage of coming out in February, a time that is generally barren of high-thinking thrillers or prestige films.

Shutter Island opened with a $40 million dollar weekend. The highest on record for Scorsese or DiCaprio. Could this have happened in the “prestige” season of the fall?

I don’t think so. With so many other films coming out, week after week, jockeying for position, Shutter Island could have very well been lost in the shuffle. Given the choices in movies I had every weekend, watching a so-so reviewed thriller would have probably been the last of my concerns with films like Up in the Air and Brothers coming out around the same time.

Instead, Shutter Island is up against When in Rome and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Not to mention, Shutter Island came out unchallenged, being the only wide release of the weekend.

Not to mention, it had a couple of months to build hype, with people waiting for something they could once again sink their teeth into as they wade through the garbage that is January. Shutter Island had the identity of an Oscar quality movie, without any of the pressures that identity would have. Shutter Island is an okay movie. It definitely has its flaws (like not starting until an hour into the movie), but for February, it’s acceptable.

Avatar could be given the same credit. Would it have broken all the records it did if it was wedged in between Transformers 2 and Harry Potter? I doubt it. People who were missing the summer blockbuster in the cold of winter has their escape, and given the numbers, they did so multiple times at the same movie.

Cop Out is coming out this Friday, but the reviews aren’t looking pretty. They don’t usually for any film by Kevin Smith, so I take it all with a grain of salt. His brand of humor is definitely for a niche market, but what Warner Bros is doing right is releasing it now. Given the cast and the subject matter, an homage to the ’80s buddy cop movie, Cop Out sounds a lot more like a summer release, but would probably get lost in the shuffle. Releasing it now just gives it that much more of a chance to flourish.

Zach and Miri, Smith’s last film, is the perfect example of mis-scheduling. It came out on Halloween; a weekend that people were more interested in seeing Saw V. We’ll see if Cop Out can follow this record of excellent scheduling, but so far I’m impressed by Hollywood’s willingness to finally let go of the release system and just releasing a film when it’s right.





Day Thirty-Six – Misleading Trailers and Ads

5 02 2010

The new Red Band trailer for Kevin Smith’s Cop Out has been released. For those who don’t know what Red Band means, it’s essentially a restricted trailer than can’t be shown in most theatres since all of the swearing, sex and violence is included.

With that in mind, see the trailer below if you can stomach the language and edgy themes:

Funny, right? Now, try and tell me it’s the same movie as the Green Band trailer below.

They look like completely different movies!

The audience that walks into the movie from the Green Band trailer is almost guaranteed to be a different one than the Red Band. That is, aside from those who know director Kevin Smith’s work. I fully realize that the goal of making a movie is to get as many people in the theatre as possible, but there should be some sort of disclaimer if a trailer is going to be that misleading.

Think of all the angry movie-goers who expected PG-13 night at the movies, only to be berated by the lewdness that a Kevin Smith movie brings. I’m a fan of it, but I know for sure my parents wouldn’t be into it.

They would be into the movie the Green Band trailer claims Cop Out is.

This isn’t the only case of misdirection I’ve seen recently. On Tuesday, Amelia was released on DVD. The movie completely tanked in theatres and the marketing changed when Amelia was brought to DVD. It looks like a romantic comedy more than a long, drawn-out drama.

The goal here is to swindle you into buying the DVD, regardless of whether you shut it off 20 minutes in or not. Cop Out has a different goal. They want the word of mouth to create buzz so people will go see it a bunch of times.

Avatar did this some how, and though Cop Out will likely be much more modest, the hope is that people will see it more than once. My mom would probably leave in the first ten minutes and forbid anyone she knows from subjecting themselves to it.

I think in this day and age, with word that can be spread so quickly, you’re better off being truthful to your audience. I want Cop Out to do well and selling the movie for what it is will give it the best chance of doing so.





Day Twenty-Seven – Movies I’m Looking Forward To Seeing

27 01 2010

If there’s one good thing about the January lull in the movie theatre, it’s that it gives me time to catch up on Oscar-bait such as Up in the Air and Precious. Though we are far from the summer when there’s a new movie for everyone every weekend, there are a handful of pictures coming up that have caught my eye. Some embarrassing, some just look good, but I’ll probably end up seeing them all.

February has one movie I’m excited to see and it’s probably not the one most film buffs are looking forward to most. Read on.

February 5, 2010

Dear John

I didn’t like The Notebook. I thought the story between the young Ryan Gosling and Rachael McAdams was great, but there was way too much of a disconnect when they returned to their old versions of themselves. For whatever reason, I’m sold on Dear John. It might be that I like Amanda Seyfried or it might be that I’m a softy. Either way, I’ll probably end up watching this flick, with or without the girlfriend.

February 19, 2010

Shutter Island

I’m not one of those film students who obsesses over Marty Scorsese. He’s a good director, great even, but he doesn’t get a free pass with me. There are movies of his that I’m not always interested in. That said, I really enjoyed the trailer for Shutter Island. It looks like an interesting psychological thriller that probably could have got some Oscar buzz if it came out when it was originally scheduled.

February 26, 2010

Cop Out

This is the movie I’m most looking forward to this February. I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith and it’s great to see him get a studio picture with Bruce Willis. Tracy Morgan is one of the best parts of 30 Rock and with Smith’s words in his mouth, it should be a good fit. Though Smith didn’t write this movie, I’d be shocked if he didn’t influence the dialogue. I’m hoping the trailer doesn’t do it justice. I’m assuming Warner Brothers isn’t sure how to market Kevin Smith to a mass audience, but I’ll be there nonetheless.

March looks a little more dense. The spring will bring packed with films, and the end of March looks like the ramp up towards it. It begins with the what will surely take the highest opening of the year so far, that is until the summer blockbusters roll out.

March 5, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I’ve never loved Tim Burton. His style rubs me the wrong way. So many unnecessary swirls and overall creepiness. Yet, if there was ever a story that Burton was most suited for, it would be Alice in Wonderland. For once, his style will make sense within the narrative, rather than detracting from it like it did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

March 12, 2010

Green Zone

Green Zone looks like the unofficial Bourne 4. I’m completely okay with that. I don’t need to see another Bourne. Let the series remain as it is, but I’m happy to see Matt Damon in a familiar situation. I’m really looking forward to this movie.

March 26, 2010

Chloe

Chalk it up to my aforementioned kind eye for Amanda Seyfried or the buzz that Chloe got at the Toronto International Film Festival, but I’ll be watching this film. It seems like it belongs in the award season line-up, but instead it comes out in between action flicks and a 3D childrens movie. One of many3D movies. This will be one of the last smart, challenging pictures I see before the summer popcorn movies begin to sprout up.

How to Train Your Dragon

This movie reminds me a lot of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, as far as my interest in seeing it goes. I’m always up for a good animated movie, but if I don’t make it to the theaters to see How to Train Your Dragon, I won’t be too upset. It looks good enough, but not something I’d put at the top of my list. It’ll be a good exercise in shutting my brain off to get ready for the onslaught of summer blockbusters.

The spring and summer will definitely be a lot more busy with new releases. There are still a handful of potential Oscar contenders I have to get out to see. By the end of the winter, I’ll probably have seen about 10 or so new releases.

I’ll have my MovieWatcher card handy.