Tag Archive for flick or skip

Flick or Skip: Contraband (Opens 13 January 2012)

On this edition of Flick or Skip, we look at an underground crime film starring Mark Wahlberg. Will Contraband be worth your time this weekend at the box office? Let’s try to figure that out by only using the trailer.

Contraband looks like your typical modern crime thriller. A good guy who used to be a bad guy gets pulled in for one more job and is double-crossed. That’s as simple as simple can be in this kind of film.

The trailer takes on this dark and gritty tint the entire time. Even scenes in bright sunlight seem dim and wrong. It’s standard visuals from Contraband, meaning the film is targeting the same audience that comes out for films like Taken or Shoot’em Up.

Mark Wahlberg has certainly made these action/crime thrillers a staple of his acting output. It feels like every other film he stars in involves big gun fights, underground crime, and the safety of his family. Contraband seems to be no exception. He wants his family back and he’ll do anything to get them. I’m not picking up on anything particularly impressive acting wise in this film. If anything, he seems to be teetering on that wooden style that made The Happening such a chore to sit through.

The issue with the trailer of Contraband is that it seems to show the entire film. From an authority figure in Wahlberg’s life expressing his pride in Wahlberg leaving crime to Wahlberg leading the charge to get revenge on everyone who put his family in danger, it’s all there. Does the trailer hide anything or are you paying admission to see a longer version of a free video?

There is an audience for Contraband. The film is popcorn entertainment with big gun fights, ships, helicopters, and cars crashing through walls. It feels dangerous because it’s about underground crime but it’s safe because you know that Mark Wahlberg will save the day. The film might be lacking for originality, but it at least seems capable of meeting the genre standards.

The verdict? Fans of this kind of action/crime film will enjoy it, if not be blown away by the story or visuals. More casual film goers could do worse this weekend if they don’t have access to any of the big awards bait. Contraband just feels like the kind of film that will work for an audience drawn in by the trailer. It won’t be perfect, but it will satisfy film fans who go to the movies to escape.

Are you going to see Contraband this weekend? Sound off.

Flick or Skip: The Devil Inside (Opens 6 January 2012)

On this, the first flick or skip of 2012, we look at the latest and perhaps raunchiest religious horror films to come around in some time. As always, we’re judging the film by the trailers alone.

This week’s subject is The Devil Inside.

thedevilinsideposter Flick or Skip: The Devil Inside (Opens 6 January 2012)

The Devil Inside: a POV docuhorror about exorcisms.

Let’s get to it.

The concept is a familiar one to anyone who has seen a recent exorcism film. The Devil Inside suggests that there is an underground ring of licensed exorcisms because the Catholic Church is afraid of seeming archaic or outdated. They deny them in the process but pursue them as quietly and rigorously as possible. They are common, not rare, and the papal state is a cover for the whole operation.

The twist of The Devil Inside is not the questionable truth of the “true events” or the POV horror twist. The novelty comes from the inclusion of science in the exorcism ritual. It’s science and faith versus the devil and there could be some fun there for a fan of the genre.

With that said, I’m not sold on this film at all. How many post-Paranormal Activity horrors will come out where the scares are going to be hidden under the guise of “this is realistic.” No, it’s not. It’s a supernatural horror film.

Once you introduce ghosts or the devil, you’ve lost the right to claim “realism” as a goal. You need to establish logic that seems plausible to a wide audience, create believable characters, and convince the audience that what’s happening on the screen is the scariest thing they’ve ever seen. Logic, not realism, is the goal. Pointing a shaking digital camera at a swinging chandelier or a contortionist does not a horror film make.

The Devil Inside does seem to have created an interesting protagonist for the religious horror genre. Typically, this film would have a mother concerned about the well-being of her child. The concept is flipped here. A mother is taken away after an exorcism goes horribly wrong and the daughter, now an adult, wants to find out what happened to her mother. I don’t know if there’s enough substance in that change to result in a good film, but they’re trying.

If you guide yourself on over to the Red Band trailer, you’ll see a very different looking film.

The red band trailer of The Devil Inside suggests this is not a standard exorcism film. It looks more like a body possession or paranormal slasher film in the vein of The Thing or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The gimmick appears not to be the “true events” or the POV horror but an epidemic of possessions. Perhaps the demon is skipping from body to body to torture the female lead. The goal of the entity appears to be murder.

It’s a shame that’s the case. Paranormal slasher films are notoriously difficult to pull off. The best of the genre, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, put their focus on a clearly identifiable villain. Once the audience knows the danger is real and follows certain rules, it becomes a guessing game of who is next. Here, the red band trailer suggests that there is no simply identifiable trait in this guessing game. How much does a creator care about his film if menstruation is used for shock value?

My suggestion is to skip The Devil Inside. It looks like a puddled mess of horror cliches orchestrated by someone who doesn’t understand how the genre works.

Will you be seeing The Devil Inside this weekend? Sound off below.

Flick or Skip: Drive (Opens 16 September 2011)

On this edition of Flick or Skip, we look at an already award-winning action/crime film. Why is there even a question of potential quality? Take this is the most positive light possible. The film won for direction. There are well-directed films that wind up being just ok because of other elements, such as screenplay, editing, or acting. That’s more what we’re looking at here.

Our subject is the star-studded film Drive from director Nicholas Winding Refn. Using only the trailer as a guide, we’ll determine whether or not it’s worth paying movie theater prices to see it this weekend.

That’s the green band trailer. That means it’s the trailer the MPAA approved to be shown in front of any movie release, regardless of rating, in America. Even without the more extreme content of the red band trailer, it works brilliantly as a marketing tool.

Flick or Skip: Colombiana (Opens 26 August 2011)

In this edition of Flick or Skip, we’ll look at the new action/thriller film Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana. Could this be the next Salt or will it fall into the expanding pit of mediocrity that houses so many action/thrillers? We’ll try to figure that out based on the trailer alone.

The first thing you can learn from the trailer is that Colombiana has quite a pedigree. The writers are responsible for the hit Liam Neeson thriller Taken and the creator/producer did La Femme Nikita and The Professional. These three films are all in the same wheelhouse that Colombiana is aiming for and are, at the very least, competently made and interesting thrillers.

There also seems to be an interesting story going on here. The lead is shown as a child and an adult, suggesting that part of the mystery of the film is what the young girl saw that led her to become the woman she is today. It might even add an interesting slant to the tired one last hit/public enemy number one nonsense that feeds so many revenge thrillers.

I do have a major concern.

Flick or Skip: Conan the Barbarian (Opens 19 August 2011)

On this edition of Flick or Skip, we decide if the upcoming remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger cult classic is worth seeing based on the trailer alone. I have admitted in the past that I’m not big on action films. This series of Conan films happens to contain two of the action/adventure films I really enjoy. They’re ridiculous and over the top, but the world is interesting and the conflicts and magical elements are engaging.

Flick or Skip: Conan the Barbarian Remake Edition

This trailer is big on action and small on character. I’m not fan. I’ve actually avoided other trailers for the film since it was released. It just seems like a bunch of nothing. There are blades and wars and quasi-exotic desert locations filled with weirdly dressed warriors. There doesn’t seem to be an overriding story.

Maybe the other two trailers show something different? #2, Red Band, and no.

This is a skip. Unless you have to see every action film that comes out, avoid it.

Flick or Skip: The Help (Opens 10 August 2011)

On this edition of Flick or Skip, we’re looking at a baity feel good dramedy about a young white reporter interviewing the black help in her suburban neighborhood for a tell all book. Is there more to the film than the premise? We’ll try to figure that out only using the trailers.

The first thing I notice is that cast. You have Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard (one of my favorite underrated actresses), Cicely Tyson, Alison Janney, and Sissy Spacek, among others. That’s a good cast. I feel like there’s something more to this that goes beyond that schmaltzy mid-tempo pop song feel of the trailer.

There has to be, right?

Flick or Skip: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Opens 5 August 2011)

I’m going to be honest with you: I haven’t seen many of these Planet of the Apes film. I’ve seen the original and the remake; that’s it. I don’t know what is drawing me to this film. It’s not some need to complete the series, nor is it some loyalty to the brand.

Based on the latest trailer alone (as they’re almost all identical with minute differences), we’ll decide whether or not it’s worth seeing this prequel that once didn’t say of the Apes in the title.

20 seconds in and I hit my biggest caveat with the trailer: would a scientist actually talk like James Franco talks in this film?

Flick or Skip: Captain America: The First Avenger (Opens 22 July 2011)

Wait, another Marvel superhero film? Didn’t we just get two of these back to back? ::checks archives:: Yes, yes we did.

But this isn’t about the campfest or the redemption. This is about that really strange looking superhero film with the creepy Benjamin Button CGI shenanigans.

As always, we will now attempt to decide whether or not it is worth it to see a new release film based solely on the information provided in the trailers. This week’s victim is Captain America: The First Avenger.

There is something really appealing about this trailer.

Flick or Skip: Larry Crowne (Opens 1 July)

I don’t think there’s anyone who has been to a movie theater in the past three months who hasn’t seen the Larry Crowne trailer. That thing is ubiquitous. I’ve seen it in front of horror films, action films, kids films, foreign films, and even documentary films.

Based solely on that inescapable trailer, let’s see if we can decide whether or not Larry Crowne is worth the price of admission on Friday.

Flick or Skip: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Opens 17 June 2011)

What? Like you can name one bigger film opening this weekend than Jim Carrey playing with penguins for 90 minutes? Oh, that thing? I’m not up to talking about Ryan Reynolds’ disembodied head floating over an animated body tonight.

For those who haven’t played before, this is where we try to surmise whether we should flick (see) or skip (not see) a movie in theaters based only on the trailers. Let’s get to it. First trailer:

Flick or Skip: Thor (6 May 2011)

Is it cheating to analyze a film’s potential after it opened in another country? Not if you don’t read those reviews or look at any aggregates or posts about that film until after you write your prognosticating post.

Thor, the latest Marvel superhero to get the big screen treatment, opens this Friday. Based on the trailers alone, it is time to determine whether or not this film is worth seeing.

Let’s be honest here: much like Scream 4, you probably know if you’re going to see this film already. I’m on the “yes because someone else is paying for the tickets, popcorn, and soda pop” train, while others of you are superhero (or Marvel superhero) completists. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the film looks, you’ll go see it because you feel obligated. That’s cool.

However, with its basis in Norse mythology and darker tone, there might be some among us who are on the fence. This is for you, my fellow myth lovers.

Flick or Skip: Scream 4 (Opening 15 April 2011)

Scream has always been a hit or miss series for horror fans. Some genuinely enjoyed the meta approach to the slasher film, deconstructing the elements that scare us while still delivering those scares at the points we expected them. Others thought it was over the top and silly. The sequels that deconstructed how franchises work were even more polarizing. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that more people dislike Scream 3–the sequel that was all about the deconstruction of movie-set slashers–than like it.

But now, those elements that were new or unusual are horror film mainstays. Series like Saw and Final Destination wouldn’t exist without the self-referential standard of Scream. Is it possible that after an almost eleven year hiatus director Wes Craven strikes gold again with the fourth Scream? Let’s try to figure that out with just the trailers.

Flick or Skip: Sucker Punch (Opening 25 March 2011)

Sucker Punch opens this Friday and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to see it. I’m a fan of fantasy films and have a fascination with films set in mental asylums. However, that does not mean that this film is for everyone or even worth seeing. That’s where an analysis of the newest trailer comes into play.