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Frank Miller

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The Mad and the Sinful.

A few other trailers that popped up via Comic-Con ’14…

Reborn as Tom Hardy, Australia’s most notable post-apocalyptic survivor looks to need a hand or three from Charlize Theron in the first trailer for George Miller’s long-anticipated Mad Max: Fury Road, also with Nicholas Hoult, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Zoe Kravitz. Eh, ok…looks like The Road Warrior with better production values.

Meanwhile, the survivors of the enjoyable first film look to go all Smokin’ Aces on Powers Boothe in a new red-band trailer for Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, with Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Jaime King, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Martin Csoskas, Christopher Lloyd, Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, Stacy Keach, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, and Lady Gaga. Not particularly inclined to throw any more money at Frank Miller, but the first one was good fun.

Update: One more: Julianne Moore and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman briefly discuss the political ramifications of one Katniss Everdeen in the most recent teaser for Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. I, with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Gwendoline Christie, and Natalie Dormer. Alrighty then – Not bad, but I thought the two recent addresses by President Snow were savvier (and creepier) marketing.

Dames, Drives, Doubles, Dollheads.

In the trailer bin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, and Powers Boothe return to old haunts in the trailer for Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, now also with Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, Dennis Haysbert, Stacy Keach, Ray Liotta and Jeremy Piven. I quite enjoyed the first one back in 2005, but it’s been awhile, and Miller’s only gotten crazier in the duration. We’ll see.

He wore a mask for all of one film — For his next trick, he (apparently) never gets out of the car: Tom Hardy goes for a portentous drive in the atmospheric trailer for Stephen Knight’s Locke, also with Tom Holland, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott (a.k.a. Sherlock‘s Moriarty), Ruth Wilson (Luther‘s Alice), Ben Daniels, and Alice Lowe. Yeah, ok.

In another moody one-man show of sorts, Jake Gyllenhaal has a bit of a doppelganger problem in this look at Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, also with Melanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini. Let’s just hope it doesn’t fly off the rails in the final act like Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal’s Prisoners.

And finally, tear off your own head: it’s a doll revolution: Domnhall Gleeson tries to grok his bandmate Michael Fassbender’s penchant for papier mache in the quirky trailer for Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, also with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Carla Aza and Francois Civil. But will Fassbender go the full Dredd?

Once (or Twice) in a Lifetime.

“A man only gets a couple of chances in life. It won’t be long before he’s sitting around wondering how he got to be second-rate.” Lots of choice stuff in today’s trailer bin: First up, President Josh Brolin braves pretzels, Poppa Bush, and enough JD to kill a small horse in this fun extended trailer for Oliver Stone’s W. (I can’t wait.) Elsewhere, Frank Miller borrows from Robert Rodriguez, who, of course, borrowed from him, to mine Will Eisner’s back-catalog in this short new teaser for The Spirit. (I’m still not sold.)

Also up recently, Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio forsake the Titanic to suffocate in the suburbs in the first trailer for Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road. (Ok, altho’ it looks Little Children-ish.) Tom Cruise leads an all-star team of character actors in a plot to kill Hitler in the second trailer for Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie. And Brad Pitt moves from age to wisdom in the second trailer for David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (Not as haunting as the teaser, but close.) I gotta say, it’s good to finally hit the Oscar stretch for 2008 — I haven’t seen nearly enough movies this year.

Update: One more, via LMG: Philip Seymour Hoffman puts on a play — and gets stuck waiting in the wings — in the trailer for Charlie Kaufman’s much-anticipated Synecdoche, New York, also starring Hope Davis, Catherine Keener, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dianne Wiest, Emily Watson, and Michelle Williams.

Update 2: Ok, what with Marky Mark, Ludacris, Bridges the Lesser, the lousy whiteboy angst-metal, and the highly Matrix-derivative gun-fu and explosions throughout, the recent trailer for John Moore’s Max Payne looks Skinemax bad. But, then again, it does have The Wire‘s Jamie Hector (Marlo) briefly playing Exposition Guy with an island accent, so that’s enough for a link. Hey, I’m easily amused.

Blithe Spirit.

The trailer for Frank Miller’s take on Will Eisner’s The Spirit leaks, and it’s a strange one, seemingly combining the visual atmosphere of Sin City with the gender economy of Dave Sim…and that doesn’t even get into Nazi Samuel L. It looks like it could be a trainwreck, but I’ll put this on the maybe pile.

A spirit of health, or a goblin damned?

In the trailer bin of late, veteran comic writer Frank Miller (possibly soon of Hardboiled) jumps to the silver screen in the new trailer for Sin City…uh, The Spirit. And Steve Coogan spreads the Gospel of Sexy Jesus in the recent redband trailer for Hamlet 2, i.e. one of the South Park guys’ take on Waiting for Guffman. This looks like it might try too hard, but I’ll probably see it for Coogan (and that scene with the cat.)

Also up as of the weekend, courtesy of NY Comiccon: lots of spoilers for Indy 4 and a description of the next Dark Knight trailer. (I’m trying to avoid them both, although I may have snuck a peek at the latter.)


Ever since The Matrix came out of nowhere in March of 1999 and proved that genre audiences would pack the seats any time of year, not just in summertime, the February/March comic-book tentpole release has become a staple of the fanboy film calendar (Think Blade II, Constantine, Sin City, V for Vendetta.) This year, as you probably know, the big event was Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300, which has been getting good buzz ever since its Comic-Con test footage and very impressive (and still very watchable) trailer last year. Well, I gotta say, I did everything I could to get all suitably double-Y aggro’ed for Snyder’s trip to Sparta: I went to the midnight IMAX showing with the fanboy nation, had Greek food for dinner (ok, a coincidence) and downed a few beers beforehand, tossed out 600 sit-ups and randomly killed a hobo — but, even then, 300 turned out to be sadly underwhelming. It looks great, no doubt — with its carefully calibrated colors and artfully spurting viscera, it looks even more Frank Millerish than Sin City did, and there are definitely a couple of images that bypass all thought and directly engage the reptilian part of the brain. But, even taken on its own terms, there’re too many groaners and too much filler here, and its attempts to be somber border on the laughable. I suspect 300 will sell a lot of HD-DVD players in the very near future, and for good reason, but it ultimately makes for a better music video than it does a movie.

The story is old, I know, but it goes on (usually in a David Wenham voiceover): In the ancient warrior city-state of Sparta, presided over by the robust, strapping King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), the men are men, the women are women, and those stunted weaklings born without a killer six-pack are picked off at a very early age. But, alas, this militarist utopia finds itself threatened by the global ambitions of the — clearly not manly enough — Persian God-King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), who asks only that Leonidas and his people submit to his divine benevolence. Submission? You must be joking. So, while his beautiful Queen (Lena Headley) negotiates with the Spartan Senate in a number of insipid let’s-take-a-meeting scenes straight out of The Phantom Menace, Leonidas takes 300 of his best, least-clad warriors to the Hot Gates, where he and his ilk must fight off — without benefit of armor, mind you — wave after wave of Xerxes’ elite assassins: the fearsome Persian Immortals, known mainly by their grinning demon masks and matching Ahmadinejad windbreakers.

Ok, that gag aside, and despite what you may have heard, there’s really not that much allegorical grist in 300. I mean, you could very easily call out the political and racial subtext of the film: very Anglo-Saxonish looking Greeks beating down evil brown and black folk, in order to defend Spartan freedom(?) against the “mysticism and tyranny” of the Asian hordes. (After all, writer Frank Miller is the same guy who felt it necessary to sic Batman on Al Qaeda.) Or, you could fault 300‘s unabashed reveling in blood, guts, and glory: Faramir won’t shut up in this movie, and yet there’s nothing at all here akin to his opening lines in his last crusade against Men of the East, The Two Towers: “His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he came from, and if he was really evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home. If he would not rather have stayed there in peace. War will make corpses of us all.
In short, to say 300 is the anti-Letters from Iwo Jima is an understatement.

But, really, all of that is basically beside the point: the movie is way too shallow to merit any deeper readings. The inimitable, foul-mouthed Neill Cumpston hit the nail on the head: 300 is in essence a video game, with waves of easy-to-dispatch bad-guy mobs punctuated by the occasional mini-boss. And, besides, let’s be honest: All subtexts aside, I came to 300 — and if you saw the trailer, you did too — to chew gum and watch people kick ass, and I’m all out of gum. But, for every adrenaline-firing sequence of Leonidas and co. carving through baddies in slow-motion — one, you’ll know it when you see it, is pitch-perfect Frank Miller — there are several others where the movie just grinds to a halt, and we’re forced to watch Leonidas look angst-ridden or Queen Gargos engage in some cut-rate speechifying about freedom: “Freedom isn’t free,” “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” etc. etc. ad nauseum. (And, alas, poor McNulty gets the shaft again: Dominic West gets a terribly-written, totally unnecessary part as a mustache-twirling politician/diplomat, which should tell you all you need to know about his role here — Like Sparta’s intrepid warriors really need his cut-and-run, Hans Blix pansy-ass screwing things up on the homefront.)

Still, for all of 300 pacing woes, dialogue groaners, and two-dimensional characters, I have to admit — it does have its occasional moments…usually when it drops all pretense and just lets its “Tonight, we dine in Hell!” freak flag fly. A sinuous oracle in flimsy gauze writhes ecstatically through a soothsaying as if underwater. The God-King Xerxes, his voice booming with inhuman authority (nice job, sound editing guys), rests majestically on his obscenely large throne stairs, making Leonidas an offer he can’t refuse. Persian ships are rent asunder by the stormy wrath of Poseidon, as Greece’s warriors roar with approval in the rain. In these moments, and at others, such as when Xerxes unleashes his menagerie of rhinos and elephants against the 300, or when the Spartans first encounter the Asians’ arcane magick of gunpowder, Zack Snyder’s film settles into a big, dumb, loud, and rousingly enjoyable groove. Alas, 300 can only sustain that intensity for minutes at at time, and for the rest of the run, it’s not so enjoyable. Too bad — I get the sense there’s probably a really amazing half-hour short-film in here somewhere. As it is, 300 feels disappointing, and makes me wonder if Snyder has the wherewithal to do Alan Moore’s The Watchmen justice.

Forth the 300.

Ok, it’s still basically just a lot of flexing and screaming. Nevertheless, the new trailer for Zach Snyder’s 300 is out, and it’s an adrenaline shot…one of the more effective previews I’ve seen in awhile. (And “Tonight we dine in Hell!” seems like it might be an apt catchphrase for all kinds of situations.)

Diamond Dogs | The Dogs of War.

In other recent trailers, much slow motion screaming: Leonardo di Caprio, Jennifer Connelly, and Djimon Hounsou venture through deepest, darkest Africa (and get shot at a lot) in their search for Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond. And, Gerard Butler puts on his Spartan game face (with aid of a David Wenham voiceover) in this music video-ish glimpse at Zack Snyder’s 300, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae.

Jokebat Mountain?

Along with word of an unfortunately actioned-up Watchman script and news of some stranger-than-usual comic adaptations (The Doom Patrol? Frank Miller on Will Eisner’s Spirit? Benicio Del Toro’s Deadman?), Latino Review — the site that first announced Brandon Routh as Superman in 2004 — discloses that Heath Ledger has an offer to play the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman flick. Hmm. An interesting and slightly-out-of-left-field choice…He wouldn’t have been one of my top picks for the part (Adrien Brody, Sam Rockwell, Paul Bettany, or how ’bout Ralph Reed?…His calendar’s open), but he’s definitely better than some names that were floating around (Crispin Glover, Robin Williams, Michael Keaton, Sean Penn.)

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