A Good Day to Die Hard (February 14)
Silver: Oh. OK. I get it now. A Good Day to Die Hard is a reboot of the franchise as a comedy. This makes much more sense. How else could you explain the film’s absurd synopsis, which, I assure you, I have not edited in any way for humor; this is exactly how it’s written on the film’s Apple Movie Trailers page:
Iconoclastic, take-no-prisoners cop John McClane, for the first time, finds himself on foreign soil after traveling to Moscow to help his wayward son Jack — unaware that Jack is really a highly-trained CIA operative out to stop a nuclear weapons heist. With the Russian underworld in pursuit, and battling a countdown to war, the two McClanes discover that their opposing methods make them unstoppable heroes.
The Die Hard series have clearly scraped the bottom of their “coincidence bucket” on this one. Producers are now asking audiences to accept that McClane just so happens to be in Russia, much less at the exact flashpoint in Russia where an underground terrorist group threatens the civilized world with nuclear destruction. And in the midst of the chaos, he just so happens to run into his super-spy son. Not even the best rendition of Ludwig Van’s Ninth Symphony can distract me from enough Bruce Willis wise cracks and smirks to fill the Nakatomi Plaza building. How is it possible that A Good Day to Die Hard is NOT a comedy?
Browne: More proof that it’s a comedy: The fact that Bruce and associate seem to keep jumping through glass windows, plummeting toward their imminent deaths, but, we can only assume, not dying. I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if they always manage to fall 50 feet but conveniently land on trampolines that launch them back to their original location. Dan, as you mentioned, the Ninth Symphony sounds incredible as this nonsense is going on, but this looks like a complete joke.
Lay the Favorite (December 7)
Silver: Let’s start with the good. Lay the Favorite has a great cast: Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rebecca Hall, Frank Grillo, Joshua Jackson, and Vince Vaughn (not seen in this trailer) are a perfect menagerie of talent for a cheeky gambling comedy. The film is also directed by Stephen Frears (The Grifters and The Queen) and co-written by Frears with his High Fidelity co-writer D.V. DeVincentis. So where’s the bad? Well, that question can be best answered with another question: Did you laugh or even smile once during this trailer? Or were you thinking, I’ve seen this before, but last time the film had Willis playing a former hit man, and Matthew Perry was in it. Sheesh. This film looks awful.
Browne: It doesn’t look awful. I think you’re still mad at Bruce for the Die Hard trailer. I guarantee you would have slightly more positive feelings for this had you watched this first. With that said, it doesn’t look too great. Rebecca Hall is funnier than I thought, which could, perhaps, save this film? Maybe? Don’t know. I guess it really comes down to how much Vince Vaughn ends up in the film. If it’s less than 90 minutes, that’s not good.
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Silver: Even though Marvel’s films are not made to contain the gritty emotional rawness or kernel of believability that Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has, the Marvel marketers are well aware that that ominous and weighty tone is one that superhero fans not only accept, but crave. So the trailers for their films tend to be much darker than the final product (see the first Avengers teaser). It’s a shrewd strategy that would have otherwise backfired if the films themselves weren’t generally so enjoyable (some much more than others). Of their trailers, this one is by far my favorite, and of their films, I feel that Iron Man 3 has the best chance to emulate the dark tenor of its trailer. After three feature films, and a slightly-higher-than-supporting role in The Avengers (better known as the New Year’s Eve of superhero films), the character of Tony Stark is by far the most fully realized in the Marvel cinema universe. Consequently, audiences are more willing to see their hero fall deeper because subconsciously they know that the reclamation will be that much more heroic. Director Shane Black’s visuals are crisp and stark (no pun intended), and the music used in the trailer is killer. I have to assume it was composed specifically for use in this format, because it fits so well.
(Side note: Black is a veteran of Hollywood, but he’s directed only one other film, 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also starring Robert Downey Jr. He’s mostly known for his writing on Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. But the image of Tony Stark trudging through the snow is reminiscent of another Black project, and arguably the best film made from one of his scripts, The Long Kiss Goodnight. If Iron Man 3 is in any way as action-packed or fun as that film, we’re all in for a great time.)
Browne: Just keep watching this trailer. Over and over again. Maybe I’m just super excited to get a break from Bruce Willis for a few moments, but I had to watch this three times before any excitement subsided. The part when RDJr. and Gwyneth get blown away in slow motion is something I really enjoy. I hope there’s a lot of that in this film.
Safe Haven (February 8 )
Silver: I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything but the Transformers films, but I kind of like Josh Duhamel. He seems likeable, so I don’t want to root against him here. But the reality is, I now run the other way when I see a title card that reads “From Author Nicholas Sparks.” I liked The Notebook — I actually liked it a lot. As a result, I allowed myself to both rent and go see other films based on his work. And each and every one has been desperately melodramatic, attempting — and ultimately failing — to replicate the perfect balance of sap and drama that was The Notebook. Just look at the poster for Safe Haven. Does it remind you of anything?
Browne: This movie looks all right and completely acceptable for its genre, but what I will not tolerate is that silly rendition of the classic fifth song of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, “Go Your Own Way.” You want to use the song, Safe Haven? Get the original. Don’t throw this trash my way and then expect me to want to see your sappy film. Unacceptable.
A Haunted House (January 11)
Silver: My three reactions to A Haunted House’s trailer:
- Nope. No. No. No. No.
- Well, it does look slightly better than the so-called serious horror films it’s spoofing. But still. I’d opt for a rerun of In Living Color (the original cast) over it.
- After solid showings in films by extremely well-respected filmmakers — Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream and Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Ladykillers — Marlon was set to be the breakout, crossover Wayans. What happened?
With that said (or seen), I will say I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Cedric the Entertainer. He’s bound to have a few funny lines scattered throughout a film that, more often than not, will be filled with poop and weed jokes that will ultimately fall flat.
But, Silver. Have you forgotten? DAMON WAYANS JR. If he continues to be fantastic on Happy Endings, I will tolerate anything the other Wayanses throw our way. You can’t win ’em all.
Evil Dead (April 12)
Silver: Rem, I’ve already provided my thoughts here, but I’d love to get your take on the ghastly fun-size treat.
Browne: These, Dan, are my thoughts:
I wasn’t built for this. Not even close.