Top 5: Movie Trailers

A perfect trailer is many things. Essentially, it’s a short film. It needs to do a few things. It obviously has to sell the movie to you. It should NOT ruin the plot by telling you everything that will happen in the movie. It has to give you a taste of visual effects, powerful moments, enduring lines, etc. It should NOT include every one of those things that the movie has (however if your movie has about 2.5 minutes of memmorable moments, your movie is in trouble already). A truly amazing trailer will live on after the movie as something you revisit to remind you of the film. The five trailers I’ve selected as the best of all-time are all recent, but that’s because making a great trailer is a recent art. If you’ve seen trailers from the 80’s and before you’ll wonder how people ever got to the movies. Embedding video into the page is rough from my laptop, so I’ll provide links to (fantastic site that offers free trailer downloads and is responsible for my ipod being full of them).

1. The Dark Knight Trailer #2 (2008)
I was worried this gave too much away when I saw it the first time, but after the movie, you see what a masterpiece of misdirection this is. It gives you jaw dropping moments, pressages a performance in Heath Ledger’s Joker that will live on as long as there will be movies, and is set to Hans Zimmer’s adrenaline pumping score. The second trailer for Inception followed much the same formula to almost the same effect, but this is the best and most played video clip on my ipod.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Trailer #2 (2002)
Returning us to the world of Middle-Earth after a year off, the trailer brilliantly reminds us of the status of the quest and highlights the increasing peril by showcasing the Battle of Helm’s Deep set to a remix of Clint Mansell’s theme to Requeim for a Dream that is the best use of music in a trailer I’ve ever experienced.

3. Road to Perdition Trailer (2002)
This trailer does a perfect job of letting the audience know the story and showcasing the two stars of Sam Mendes’ brilliant film: the actors and the cinematography. One of the most beautiful films ever shot, the trailer shows you a glimpse of what awaits you while some of the best actors of any generation deliver some of the most memorable lines of the film.

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Trailer (2004)
From the very instant it begins with Professor Snape slapping windows shut as he urges us to turn to page 394, we get sucked back into the world of Hogwarts. The trailer was our first glimpse of Michael Gambon as Dumbledore after the death of Richard Harris and showcased the dark tone and beautiful imagery that Alfonso Cuaron would bring to what is still the best of the Potter movies. Add in John Williams’ last score on the series (perhaps his last masterpiece) and you have magic (pardon the pun).

5. 300 Trailer #2 (2007)
Pure visual candy from open to close. Whether you knew about the graphic novel or not, by the time the trailer ended the trailer had left an indelible impression on you (for good or ill, I’m not unaware Zack Snyder has his haters). 300 looks like no movie ever made and the trailer whacked you between the eyes with a visual feast.

Very very hard to narrow this to only five. If I had to include a few more, we’d have had Saving Private Ryan, Casino Royale, Star Wars Episode I (seriously, do you remember how you felt when you saw Darth Maul’s double lightsaber ignite?), Inception, and Tropic Thunder.

Killing TIme – July 30, 2010

How have you been slaying Father Time’s offspring this week? In our ongoing effort to involve the RN community (cough desparate cry for attention cough), check out how we’ve been wasting time (why am I writing in the collective?) and add your own!
Book: The Passage by Justin Cronin
Music: Podcasts this week, listenend to a slew of’s podcast. Good stuff.
Video Game: Limbo
DVD/Blu Ray: Amazing Race Asia Season Three, Serenity & Quantum of Solace on Blu Ray
Comics: Captain America Omnibus Vol. 1 by Ed Brubaker

Renaisance News Vol. 2, Issue 22

Change is blowing in the home offices of the RN here in overly sunny Southern California. Change has blown so hard the last week that it has knocked me clean off my production schedule, and this issue is a day late for which I apologize. We will probably be on Thursday next week as well, but I shall continue to brave the darkest corners of geekdom to bring you your bits of tid. Big week with news pouring forth from the San Diego Comicon, so let’s get to it.

  • Your new Hulk is Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac)! Of course, had you read the last issue, you already knew that, but director Joss Whedon unveiled the official Avengers cast at Comicon, introducing Ruffalo who will be replacing Edward Norton. Also announced was Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker) as archer Hawkeye.
  • The sinking ship that is American Idol continues to plunge further into obscurity. Ellen DeGeneres has announced she is leaving the show after only one season. Simon Cowell has already departed for his new show, X-Factor, and that leaves us with Randy Jackson and She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named (whose contract has yet to be renewed). No word on possible replacements.
  • So…ok. Guillermo del Toro left The Hobbit. I’m still coming to terms with that. Is he going to do his Frankenstein next? Is he going to do his adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness? Well yes and it looks like James Cameron will produce, but that’s not what he’s doing first. First he’s REBOOTING the Disney’s Haunted Mansion movie. I love the ride; do not get me wrong; however, this is like Monet painting street signs. Sigh.
  • The SyFy Channel is exploring doing an online Battlestar Galactica series that would focus on a young William Adama during the First Cylon War.
  • Linda Hamilton is joing the cast of Chuck for its upcoming fourth season.
  • Does Total Recall require a remake? No, but they’re making one and Len Wiseman is directing it. He’s also going forward with Underworld 4, which will be a sequel to Underworld 2 with Kate Beckinsale and filmed in a format I no longer report on because I’m so sick of it (it may or may not be 3D).
  • Lost co-creator Damon Lindeloff is doing rewrites on the script for Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel.
  • Steve Carrell will produce and star in a comedy called Raised by Wolfs….which should speak for itself.
  • Edi Gathegi (Twilight) has joined the cast of X-Men: First Class as the mutant Darwin.
  • Officially announced, but reported here weeks ago (I can’t help but brag when we’re right), Daniel Craig has signed on to play the lead in all three adaptations of Stieg Larssons Milennium Series.
  • Go online and watch the trailer for Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. Do it now. Have you done it? I KNOW, RIGHT???
  • Saw 3D (aka Saw VII) will be the last in the horror series.
  • Brad Pitt has signed on to star in the Marc Forster directed adaptation of World War Z, the coolest zombie book ever written. Go read it now. NOW. I’m impatient, sorry, but zombies won’t wait.
  • DVD Release Dates:
    CSI: Miami: The Complete Eighth Season, October 12th
    Goonies 25th Anniversary Ed, November 2nd
    Killers, September 7th
    The Larry Sanders Show: Complete Second Season, November 2nd
    The League: Complete First Season, September 14th
    Lost Boys: The Thirst, October 26th
    Medium: The Complete Sixth Season, October 5th
    Pee Wee’s Playhouse Complete Collection, October 19th
    Robin Hood, September 21st
  • Blu Ray Release Dates:
    Ali, August 3rd
    Carrie, September 14th
    The Deer Hunter, August 10th
  • Goonies 25th Anniversary Ed., November 2nd
    Killers, September 7th
    The League: The Complete First Season, September 14th
    Lost Boys: The Thirst, October 26th
    Magnificent Seven, August 10th
    Misery, September 14th
    Robin Hood, September 21st
    The Silence of the Lambs, September 14th
    Species, September 14th

  • Box Office
    1. Inception, $42.7 million
    2. Salt, $36.0 million
    3. Despicable Me, $23.7 million
    4. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, $9.7 million
    5. Toy Story 3, $8.9
  • Billboard Top Albums
    1. Recovery by Eminem
    2. Teflon Don by Rick Ross
    3. 100 Miles from Memphis by Sheryl Crow
    4. Thank Me Later by Drake
    5. Kidz Bop 18 by Kidz Bop Kidz (what…..IS this?)
  • Video Games Bestsellers
    1. NCAA Football 11, XBOX 360
    2. NCAA Football 11, PS3
    3. Fire Emblem, DS
    4. Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Road Victory, Wii
    5. Wii Sports, Wii
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
    2. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
    3. The Secret by Nora Roberts
    4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    5. Private by James Patterson

Transformers: War for Cybertron

Transformers: War for Cybertron has been drawing a lot of comparisons to last year’s Batman: Arkham Asylum in that both arrived with high critical hopes after decades of poorly made licensed games. In that respect, the comparison is apt. If you’ve suffered through past Transformers video games (and the movies….damn you, Michael Bay) then WFC will take you back to the roots of the franchise. Back to the cartoon in fact….well, before the cartoon to be precise. WFC ends where the cartoon begins, chronicling the civil war that split the Transformer race and sent the Autobots on the course to Earth.

WFC puts a good story front and center in a suprisingly long single player campagin. You’ll control both sides, first the Decepticons as they rise to power and then the Autobots as they try to rally. Habro has declared this game cannon, so longtime bot geeks (oh yes, I still have my Optimus Prime) will get to see Starscream defect from the Autobots to the Decepticons, Optimus become Prime, and the origin of the Matrix of Leadership. The emphasis on story is welcome and character designs are close to their cartoon counterparts. One of the many (many many many) problems with the movies is that it becomes very hard to tell the robots apart. This was never a problem in the cartoon and isn’t in WFC. Voicework is strong and-yes-Peter Cullen is Optimus Prime. What more could you ask?

Story is great, but how’s the gameplay? Solid. Transformers: WFC is a fantastic action shooter/platformer with amazing controls. The fluidity of transforming from robot to vehicle form and the depth of combat options that gives you is stunning. I especially loved controlling the jets, turning into robot form in mid-air to melee an opponent, and then turning back into a jet and roaring off within a split second. Games attempting this in the past have never even come close and WFC makes it so easy that after awhile you don’t even think about it. I was hours into the campaign and my wife came in the room when I was playing and was stunned at how fast and sharp the controls and graphics are. My biggest beef would be the lack of a cover mechanic. Sometimes when you go up against a large number of opponents, it’s tough to get to a safe haven and there’s no avenue for a duck and shoot mechanic.

I had a blast with WFC. It’s not Game of the Year material like Arkham Asylum was, but it’s outstanding and will banish the nightmares of past Transformers games.

Green Zone

Green Zone is a good movie, but it should have been a great movie. That’s essentially my review in 13 words, but for form’s sake, let’s expand. Green Zone tells the story of a Chief Warrant Officer who is heading up teams searching for WMDs in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad in March 2003. He’s not finding any. Caught inbetween the stark situation on the ground, the absurd disconnect of the administration’s infighting, and his conscience battling his duty, the CWO tries to find the truth behind the intel that lead us to war.

This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to rant about my particular views surrounding the Iraqi War. I am stunned that so few movies are being made about the focal point of global conflict. A war that’s lasted over seven years is largely forgotten by mainstream America, and for all their talk of activism, where are the Hollywood statement pictures? Green Zone starts off as one and the first 30-40 minutes are an extremely powerful look at the chaos and insanity in Baghdad after the city was taken. Matt Damon does a great job disappearing into his role, leading a squad played by actual soldiers and veterans (many of whom shot the film while inbetween deployments to the Gulf theatre). However, then the movie turns into a rather standard thriller that just happens to be set in Iraq, and the impact of the beginning makes a brief return at the end, but by then the film has lost it’s potential to be a powerful look into something most Americans seem all too willing to forget. I expect better from Paul Greengrass after films like United 93, and I’ve heard that there was a lot of studio meddling and fuss over the budget. The film also got delayed six months before release, which is usually a sign that there were problems.

I don’t mean it to sound like Green Zone isn’t worth seeing. Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, and Greg Kinnear give great performances and Paul Greengrass, even when off the top of his game, still delivers an entertaining movie. But this movie had a chance to be a lot more than merely entertaining and I wish it had lived to it’s potential.