A lot of remakes and reboots are seemingly made for some alternate universe, a timespace filled with people who have no interest in what made the original “RoboCop” so good, people who don’t care about the themes or the underlying subtext and just want to see a shiny robotic police officer throwing around bad guys. These films are moot. They are unnecessary, rendered obsolete before they even exist, offering nothing more than a brief diversion and a chance to be reminded of a better, more worthwhile outing.
Yet sometimes these remakes or reboots are worthwhile endeavors. Sometimes you wind up with a “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a movie that should have been bad and could have been bad and shoulda/coulda checked off every box on the Lazy Blockbuster Remake list, but instead the director and the writers and the actors and the special effects people made something better, truer, more humane and deeply felt, something that honored the original in its way but was mostly a fully-realized story about a fully-drawn character told in a wonderfully clear, fulfilling way.
All of which comes to mind when watching the trailer for “Godzilla,” another movie starring the oversized nuclear-boosted lizard, yet also a movie that looks like it builds actual tension and story and characters; a blockbuster movie that follows and evokes the cheesy monster-fight movies some of us watched as kids (or, more horrifyingly, a terrible remake starring Matthew Broderick), yet also a blockbuster movie that stars Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Straitharn and Elizabeth Olsen (with the involvement of these people earning this movie a hefty dose of trust before we even saw Frame One). A movie, in other words, rather than a movie-shaped mechanism that exists only to squeeze a few dollars out of a preexisting concept or name. The new “Godzilla” looks like an actual movie, which it doesn’t actually need to be, and which makes its tangible promise all the more remarkable:
Here is your first look at “The Tree of Life,” written and directed by reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick. I saw the trailer before “127 Hours” “Black Swan,” and it looks pretty beautiful on the big screen, like a painting transposed onto film. It stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. It will be Malick’s third film since “Days of Heaven” was released in 1978: “The Thin Red Line” in 1998, “The New World” in 2005 and now this in 2011. If I gave you a list of some directors not named Terrence Malick who have made more than three films in the last 30 years, it would just depress you, so just go watch the beauty. [Apple]
Here’s the red band trailer for “Your Highness,” which is just the most absurdly perfect ever conceived. It stars Danny McBride as a prince, James Franco as his more-polished-prince brother, Zooey Deschanel as a kidnapped maiden, Natalie Portman as a badass and Justin Theroux as a wizard. It’s about McBride and Franco going on a quest to save Dechanel, and it’s kind of like “Krull” and those other very-very-very-1980s sorcery/swordplay epics, only it’s funny, and looks awesome, and it is absurd to think about the kind of money a studio shelled out so McBride could play the hero, but he (as the star) and this movie look just perfect. Also, when this movie comes out, Franco and Portman will assuredly be one Oscar nomination richer, to say nothing of a potential trophy. Worth knowing.
Again, red band, so if you don’t like naughty words or whatever, don’t watch.
Here’s the teaser trailer for “Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom.” The first one, which earned $631 million bucks in 2008, was a surprisingly strong summer performer. (Its domestic total of $215 million was a mere $8 million behind what “Wall-E” made, which is ridiculous, but whatever.) It wasn’t the best thing ever, but it was fun enough and a nice diversion and kung fu movies are always welcome, whether they’re straightforward or DreamWorks in-jokey types. At least it’s not “Shrek,” okay?
The latest “Tron: Legacy” trailer is here. It’s more of the same: Looks very cool. Looks very serious. There are two Jeff Bridgeseses. One of them is the bearded, aged version we’re all familiar with; the other is a still-a-bit-too-plastic-y CGI version of Bridges circa the 1980s. (I expect that by the Dec. 17 release, the CGI version will look better.) There’s also Garrett Hedlund as the hero (Bridges’s son). Plus, Olivia Wilde, who has been very pretty on TV for years now (“The O.C.,” “House”), takes her too-good-looking-NOT-to-be-CGI self to the big screen.
As others have said, yeah, it looks a little grim. Looks like it’s trying hard to be taken seriously, not laughed at because A) it’s about living computer programs and B) it’s the sequel to a cult classic from 1982. But it also looks utterly phenomenal, like the kind of thing that was made for 3-D and IMAX screens, a movie that’s worth seeing on the big screen.
Wow, it must be “Lightweight Romantic Comedies From Rich White People Who Have Seen Better Days” day on the Internet or something, because we have yet another trailer! This one’s for an Adam Sandler movie.
“Just Go With It” is the latest of Sander’s interchangeable “lovable shlub meets a woman, some plot contrivance causes problems, then they get together” movies. This time around, he’s a doctor (sure, why not) who meets women by pretending to be married (yep, sounds about right). Then he meets Brooklyn Decker, and decides She Is The One, because, well, he doesn’t read Sports Illustrated for the articles.
But! She thinks he’s married! So he has to enlist the help of Jennifer Aniston, to pretend to be the wife he’s divorcing. And you know how there’s that oft-mocked but even-more-oft-reused trope of making a hot lady look “frumpy” by having her wear glasses and a ponytail? Yes, they do that with Jennifer Aniston in this movie. She’s frumpy! Until she’s not! And Sandler will realize she’s the one he was meant to be with, the end.
Also, Nicole Kidman has a role in this movie, for some inexplicable reason. And have I mentioned the title yet? Because really, that title is terrible. Okay, I’m done complaining now.
Here’s the trailer for “No Strings Attached,” the first of two similarly-themed movies coming out next year about friends (Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman) who start hooking up but not actually dating or anything. (There’s also “Friends With Benefits,” starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and due next July.) You can guess the entire story arc without even watching the trailer: They’re friends! They hook up! One or both of them develops feelings! They contemplate ending their friendship and relationship! There is some sort of mix-up involving one of them thinking about seeing someone else! Then they realize they love each other!
Two noteworthy bits: This is from Ivan Reitman, who last crapped out “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” in 2006, and used to direct things like “Ghostbusters.” Also, is that Ludacris in the trailer, as one of Ashton Kutcher’s buddies? It is, isn’t it? Wow. Isn’t it great that he’s the only actor in this thing who starred in a film that won Best Picture?
Noted apostle of cinematic hatred Christopher Rosen…actually has a point on this one. There’s a third “Big Momma’s House”? Wow. Some eons hence, when aliens are picking through the ravaged remains of what was once human civilization, trying to pinpoint where things went wrong, they very well might settle on this trailer as the pivotal moment.
“Cars” is the weakest of Pixar’s output over the last decade. That’s not really in dispute. (Though obviously it’s graded on an incredibly hard curve, because “Cars” would be the Rubber Soul of DreamWorks animated movies, but that’s not the point.) But because it features a bunch of anthropomorphic talking cars, it was a merchandising supernova for Disney. So of course it gets a sequel! The first “Cars,” released in 2006, was directed by superman John Lasseter. This film is due next summer and will become the first non-“Toy Story” sequel in Pixar history, to be followed by “Monsters, Inc. 2” in 2012 or 2013.
(Of note: By that time, Pixar will have gone from releasing one sequel in its first 15 years to three sequels in the last four years. Just saying.)
If you ever read “The Tempest” and thought, “Boy, I would see a weird-looking version of that made into a film by Julie Taymor, starring Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Chris Cooper, Alfred Molina, David Strathairn and Djimon Hounsou,” you are absolutely in luck. Here’s a trailer for the film, which casts Miren in the lead role.
Do you have any hippie friends who were around during Woodstock and all they ever talk about is how great LSD was, and how you just don’t understand? Imagine one of them ate a copy of “The Tempest” and described the digestive process to you, and the result would be no more comprehensible than this trailer. Seriously, it’s something.