You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover — but films? Well, that’s what trailers are for. I watched the trailers and here’s what I think. Some of these movies I’ll go see, some I won’t. If I do, I’ll post a more complete review (mostly to see if my knee-jerk reactions were correct.) If you see them before I do, tell me what you think!
Haywire (2011, January 20)
Steven Soderbergh is the most rewarding of the directors of this particular style. Let’s call them: action/drama for smart people. He did the four hour Che (2008) which is among my favorite movies of all time and Oceans Eleven (2001) which is hard to knock. Haywire is about a generic spy of some sort who is mysteriously turned against by the agency she works for (the CIA, I suppose). We get the feeling that she is a pawn in an intricate game, but because she doesn’t go quite so quietly, everyone’s plan gets screwed up. Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, and Antonio Banderas all have supporting roles and all three are the sort that make any picture better. Tatum Channing is also in the movie and he usually makes movies worse. So… what’s is that (?) … maybe a 70% chance that we have a good picture on hands. Probably not a classic, but certainly a very competent and exciting piece.
Red Tails (2011, January 20)
Let me be cynical for a moment: this movie is about watching planes doing tricks and that racism is wrong. That said, I think it will be a strong vehicle (excuse the pun). Both Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard are strong actors and they lead an impressive cast in a visually appealing story of courage (and planes doing tricks.) We have here, though, a very old story about adversity, about coming together in the face of insurmountable odds, and then, predictably, overcoming those insurmountable odds. It’s decidedly feel-good and can’t be blamed for that. But, we do need to watch for how realistically the movie sets up its tensions. Do the white army officers who don’t let black pilots fly their plans make outlandishly racist statements? Or is the racism more institutional and therefore, more insidious? Do the black pilots come together because of a love of country? Or is it a little more human? These stories have the potential to be cartoonish and thin and I do detect something a little simplistic in the trailer.
Underworld Awakening (2011, January 20)
If you like this genre, you probably can’t aesthetic judgments about any particular movie within it. In this, the fourth entry in the canonical Underworld series, we are given glimpses of an ongoing war between vampires, werewolves, and Lycans (werewolves who can do tricks) and even a really big werewolves (size being better in this genre). Again, if you find the prospect of two hours of karate, vampires, werewolves, and werewolves doing tricks to be exciting, then go ahead and watch it. You’re destroying America.