Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Who Could Care About Hellboy With Batman And Iron Man Around?

Another poll ends, but this time there's a tie between a psychotic billionaire and a murderous academic who doesn't believe in a lot of superstitious hocus-pocus (though really he probably should).
  • Batman Agains - 6 (30%)
  • Indiana Jones And The Inevitable Joke About His Age - 6 (30%)
  • It's The Baby Mama Starring Tina Awesome Fey - 4 (20%)
  • Wall*E Robot Film - 2 (10%)
  • Man Of Iron - 2 (10%)
  • The Wachowski Siblings Present: ANIME - 0 (0%)
  • James McAvoy Is Wanted! - 0 (0%)
  • An Incredible Hunk - 0 (0%)
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Zzzzzzz - 0 (0%)
  • Jumpier - 0 (0%)
  • M. Night Shyamalan's The Hopefully-Not-Suckening - 0 (0%)
  • Narnia II: Narnier and Narniarer - 0 (0%)
  • Will Smith And The Amazing $85m Opening Weekend - 0 (0%)
  • Tom Cruise Vs. Hitler - 0 (0%)
  • Producer Director Writer Wunderkind J.J. Abrams' Trek Through Space And Time - 0 (0%)

  • I'm not surprised it came down to a dead heat between Indy and Bats. At least, I'm not surprised after seeing the trailer for the former, which turned out to be infinitely better than I thought it would be (to the extent that the shot of Indy's shadow as he puts his hat on made me cry like the big sentimental idiot I am). That said, if The Dark Knight is even a tenth as good as Batman Begins (which was my favourite film that year, and stands up to repeated viewings) then Indy is screwed, alien skulls and Commie Cate Blanchett notwithstanding. Check out this article on Chris Nolan, possibly the best thing to come out of England since Thom Yorke or Adam Curtis.

    Next in line, with a jawdropping four votes, is Baby Mama. To be honest I hadn't heard of the movie until Canyon pointed it out to me a couple of hours after I started the poll, which led me to amend it pronto. The trailer's funny enough, but does it have a bigger profile than I thought? Or are people so besotted with Poehler and Fey that they would go all bonkers with excitement over the thought of seeing them all enlargened at the cinema? Actually, this is understandable.

    Next up, two votes for Wall*E, with one of those votes coming from me, which is odd only in that the film is directed by the one director at Pixar that I find sub-par. Try though I have to love it, Andrew Stanton's Finding Nemo annoys me no end, being mechanical, cloying, and not particularly funny (though gorgeous to look at). That it is the studio's most successful film keeps me up at nights, as I try to understand why that slab of pretty whimsy has all the dollars while the masterpiece that is Ratatouille fared so poorly (in comparison), and why something as clever and unique as Monsters Inc. gets treated like Pixar's redheaded stepchild.

    I know sentimentality sells to families, but it still irks me. However, everything I've seen and heard about Wall*E has astonished me, in terms of the scope of Stanton's vision and his bold choices. Plus, of course, it's the last movie Pixar have on their roster that bears the fingerprints of Joe Ranft, who was so instrumental in creating Pixar's storytelling factory. There's only one other movie vying for my Most Anticipated Movie designation, and that comes later. This isn't a trailer, just a quick clip of Wall*E interacting with a vacuum cleaner, and it is pure joyous brilliance.

    Also with two votes, Iron Man! I'm not the biggest fan of the character (especially in his current role as the Marvel Universe's Head Douchebag), and I worry that Favreau won't be able to pull it off, but my God, the baiting of the fanboy section of the audience has been nothing short of incredible. Every con appearance, every clip, every trailer; each has been better than the last, and the one below is the armour-plated cherry on top.

    Though there are movies I'm looking forward to more, this is the one I want to succeed the most. It's got a lot going against it. Robert Downey Jr. might be one of the most charismatic and entertaining actors around, but a box office draw he is not, plus his blackface appearance in Tropic Thunder is bound to annoy a lot of people and that could turn public opinion against him. The character of Tony Stark isn't that well known outside nerd circles, and some people might just think it's a film about Ghostface Killah, though I'd pay to see that too. There are a lot of other movies coming out that could do better. Gwyneth Paltrow seems to generate a negative knee-jerk response a lot of the time (I don't get it, but I'm not the majority of the hatey internets).

    However, if a shitty heap of wretched, pointless nonsense like Ghost Rider can make over $100m then, going on the quality of that trailer, this can knock a box office record or two into orbit. I hope so. If this is a success, it bodes well for Marvel Entertainment's roster of forthcoming movies, and will pave the way for an Avengers movie, which must happen or I will run out of the room crying and blaming the cinema-going public for ruining my dreams.

    That could also work for The Incredible Hulk, though interest in it has been much more muted, perhaps because we've already seen an adaptation of it recently, and it left people underwhelmed. Actually, everyone seemed to like the crazy editing and hate the Hulk effects, and I was the other way around, for the most part. I still maintain the digital performance of the Hulk was superb, even if the effects weren't as photo-real as some really really really demanding viewers wanted. Will NortonHulk be accepted in a way BanaHulk wasn't? Who knows? The trailer hasn't even come out yet. Perhaps that's why I find it hard to muster any enthusiasm about it.

    Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and The Dark Knight are not the only superhero movies vying for the nerd dollar/pound/Tögrög. Also included was Timur Bekmambetov's adaptation of Mark Millar's supervillain epic Wanted, now with 100% less superpowers. As fun as the movie looks, for a start it's directed by someone with nothing more than a great eye for the visuals but a life-threatening allergic response to story structure. I hate when directors get criticised for not understanding how to tell a story, as even the worst filmmakers can crank out something that can be mentally ordered into some semblance of a narrative by any viewer who has seen a film before. Not Bekmambetov. Night Watch was a series of startling images glued onto cards and then shuffled for an hour before being presented as a finished movie. I'm not an idiot, seriously, but that film was incomprehensible. If he can pull this off I will be very surprised. That's before we get to the part where all of the cool supervillainy of the comic is replaced with sexy assassins sexily shooting people in sexronic slow motion ZOMG! Call me crazy, but that's been done before, right? James "Digi-Pecs" McAvoy could be this year's Bald Timothy Olyphant. And who wants that?

    The other straight comic adaptation on there is Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. For the record, as much as I appreciate Guillermo Del Toro's knack for creating great visuals (not as impressive as Bekmambetov's, though), and though I respect his ability to create coherent stories (way way WAY better than Bekmambetov), his movies kinda bore me. Not so much that I won't ever watch them. Pan's Labyrinth was very good, and I still love Blade II though I do tune out once they go into the sewers. It's just that Hellboy is utterly lifeless. Plus, Selma Blair's death voice makes me want to fill my ears with caulk. Next!

    The only other superhero film I'm looking forward to is Hancock. I'll watch Will Smith in anything, though when I heard this tale of a useless hero coming back from the depths of depression was being directed by Jonathan Mostow, whose films have failed to impress thus far, I figured it would be a minor distraction. But I was wrong! And so was IMDb for a while! Turns out the film has had a complicated history, but ended up being directed by Peter Berg. Shades of Caruso loves Peter Berg (even though Very Bad Things is among the ten worst films ever made and The Kingdom was less than perfect)! We now officially endorse this movie, and hope that it is the success that Berg deserves, considering the insane fact that Friday Night Lights and The Rundown/Welcome to The Jungle didn't make $1bn between them.

    Also gathering no votes is M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, possibly because the name is stupid, possibly because most people who sat through The Village and The Lady In The Water have washed their hands of him, and understandably so. I hated both movies (and thought the latter was such a pissy little rattle-throwing rant that he should be banned from making films until he gets some perspective), but loved the idea for this movie, and thought the teaser trailer was very effective. Then I saw this one.

    Now, there's some great moments in that, and it looks like there will be some terrific set pieces, but right in the middle there's that seemingly endless shot of Marky Mark looking horrified and confused, and every drop of awe generated by the trailer evaporates.

    Shyamalan's one of the most infuriating directors in the world, because he keeps shooting himself in the foot. In The Lady In The Water he shot himself with Freddy Rodriguez's rubber arm. This time, he's shot himself with Mark Wahlberg's perplexed face. And the movie isn't even out yet! He truly is his own worst enemy.

    So out of all the movies on that list that aren't Wall*E, and considering I've seen Jumper, hated the first Narnia film enough for seven sequels, am keeping my fingers crossed for Star Trek but am expecting some pain, and have had my interest in Tom Cruise films damaged to such an extent by his shenanigans that I can't even watch trailers for Valkyrie without wincing, the one that I'm looking forward to most seems to be a garish CGI showreel based on an anime I've never seen, featuring Roger "Peter Mannion from The Thick Of It" Allam as the bad guy, John Goodman (who I've never really warmed to) as Speed's dad, and starring some guy from a Sean "Is that my daugh-dah in they-ah?!?!" Penn film I only heard of last year. But my God, just look at this beautiful trailer.

    The moment I saw that, I fell totally in love. The Wachowskis made my favourite ever movie, so I'm always going to see their movies no matter what they make, but this incredible vision, this unique visual wash, this incredibly ambitious attempt to rewrite the rules of cinema! I had no idea they would be presenting my eyes this wondrous present. Just look at these screencaps.

    The astonishing colours!

    The stunning visual imagination!

    The crazy cartoony concepts!

    Anime-faced Christina Ricci in a short skirt for the fellas!

    Foxy Matthew Fox in a leather jumpsuit for the ladies!

    Car chases and crashes and incredible dynamism!

    I expect to watch this 80 times this summer. Truly we do not deserve to be breathing the same air as these geniuses. ::prostrates himself before sibling masters of cinema::

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