Restraint is a foreign concept when it comes to marketing genre films. Studios would rather use advertising to bludgeon audiences into submission than to entice them into the theater. That makes it very hard for those of us who avoid spoilers like the plague. The new domestic trailer for Looper is a great example of this practice at work. It comes right on the heels of the international trailer. Not only does it reveal new shots, but offers slightly extended versions of ones that were merely teased in the first two trailers. The result is the movie marketing equivalent of a car wreck. In this particular case, the carnage is so beautiful that one can’t bear to look away.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
On Tuesday, RZA began rationing out marketing materials for The Man With the Iron Fists via his twitter account. First came an “official” still image, followed a day later by the poster. Now comes the coup de grace: the red band trailer, which premiered on IGN last night.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
By the early 1980’s, the once powerful Shaw Brothers Studios was a shadow of its former self. To make matters worse, The Hong Kong new wave was in full swing. Rival studio Golden Harvest had risen to prominence on the strength of the "Terrific Trio." The acrobatics and superb comic timing of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao dazzled audiences worldwide. By contrast, the Shaw Brothers approach seemed hopelessly dated.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The color purple is said to represent leadership, wealth, happiness, trustworthiness, and the power of creation. To fans of the Wu-Tang Clan, it represents the exact same thing that the number seven represents in the bible: perfection. Indeed, many of RZA’s aesthetic choices have been informed by numerology and color coding, both in the studio and in the boardroom. Judging by the poster for The Man With The Iron Fists, his first foray into feature filmmaking will be no different.
I love modern crime dramas, but I also love science fiction. I’ve often wondered if there was a credible way to consolidate the two without sacrificing the integrity of either. Judging by the international trailer for Looper, it seems that writer/director Rian Johnson and I are on the same page.
Comic book fans have always debated hypothetical battles between their favorite characters. Super Power Beat Down uses this ages old practice as the basis for a web series. Imagine Spike Television’s Deadliest Warrior done with superheroes instead of historical figures and you’ll get the idea. A group of self-styled experts pits two characters (often from different fantasy worlds) against each other. A debate then ensues regarding the likely outcome. A fight scene featuring both characters is then filmed by Bat in the Sun Productions. It ends with the most probable/logical (and I use term loosely) outcome. Viewers are allowed to vote well in advance of each episode. Each episode begins with the debate to properly set the stage. The fight scene is then shown before the final voting tally is revealed.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The Man With The Iron Fists has to be one of the most closely guarded films in recent memory. It wrapped production over a year ago, yet not so much as a single frame of footage has surfaced in that time. That can easily be seen as a bad omen. After all, The RZA’s two previous directorial efforts (The elusive Bobby Did It and Wu-Tang Vs. the Golden Phoenix) have yet to see the light of day. One would hope that same fate doesn’t befall The Man With The Iron Fists, especially seeing as how it boasts considerable talent both in front of and behind the camera. Perhaps hoping to curtail any sort of bad buzz before it starts, RZA recently tweeted the first official image from the film.
I have a couple of confessions to make. I like strippers, and I like strip clubs. To be fair, it’s been years since I’ve actually set foot in one. They happen to be a colossal waste of money, and aren’t very good places for finding a girlfriend or a wife. Still, they have their appeal. Back when I used to frequent such places regularly, I’d go to a club called Sue’s Rendezvous. Sue’s is located in Mount Vernon, New York, and caters to a mostly Black and Latino clientele. Some wild things used to happen there from time to time. Me being the movie buff that I am, I soon realized that a Black strip club would be the ideal setting for a modern crime story. The Players Club, Ice Cube’s directorial debut, doesn’t really count. It was mostly an after-school special that alternated between broad melodrama and broader slapstick. That's not nearly gully enough for true aficionados of booty clubs and/or gangster flicks.
The trailer for Alex Cross has finally arrived. Skeptics will now chime en masse about their fears having been confirmed. That is understandable, to a degree. As thrillers go, it looks like a fairly standard stuff. All the tropes and trappings are clearly in place. It isn’t enough for the villain to simply be psychotic and murderous, he must be eccentrically and/or perfectly so. The character of Michael "The Butcher" Sullivan, played by Matthew Fox, is an MMA fighter with Special Forces training. With that kind of resume, he might as well be a super villain. Mr. Cross has no such attributes. He’s simply an exceptional psychologist/detective. The more I think about, the more I see parallels to one of this summer’s most anticipated releases: The Dark Knight Rises. Think about it: a super detective faces off against a villainous bodybuilder who means to destroy all that he holds dear.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
The popular misconception is that Yaphet Kotto was the only Black actor to appear in Ridley Scott’s Alien. This misconception persists because the other Black actor was cast not as a Nostromo crewmember, but as the film’s title creature. He spent the entire movie in a latex suit with an amazingly awkward head. So unusual was his lanky physique that it essentially became the film’s most remarkable visual effect. The actor I’m talking about is Bolaji Badejo, a 7ft 2in actor from Nigeria.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
There are only six stories you can tell, or so the saying goes. There aren’t any new ideas, just endless ways to repackage old ones. Everything has been done before, and is derivative to some degree or another. Bearing that in mind, you’d think that so-called cineastes wouldn’t be so quick to label everything that comes down the pike as plagiarism. That kind of attitude can keep so called fans from seeing the forest for the trees. Even more crippling is the idea that something has to be revolutionary to be worth the time of a true connoisseur. I am so thankful that I have never fallen victim so such a narrow mindset. Otherwise, I’d never be able to muster any kind of excitement for small pleasures such as the teaser trailer for The Prototype.
Friday, June 22, 2012
The Matrix still stands as one of the most revolutionary films of all time. It brought the traditions of Hong Kong action cinema to western shores, and made them part of Hollywood’s filmmaking language. Alas, that proved to be both a blessing and a curse. Instead of prompting Hollywood filmmakers to step up their fight choreography game, they simply used CGI and other tricks to enhance otherwise lackluster fight scenes. That tendency grew progressively worse over the past 13 years, leading to the glut of incoherent “chaos” filmmaking that now rules the multiplexes. It is somewhat fitting that the star of the watershed film that helped usher in the current era of action cinema is now trying to take things back to a more classical approach.
Last August, the pilot episode for Black Dynamite: The Animated Series premiered on adultswim.com. Some thought its brand of raunchy humor much too crude, and its zany tone over the top. I found it to be aggressively faithful to the source material. I’d even argue that it’s exactly what Michael Jai White and Scott Sanders would’ve done with the live-action film had he been given a larger budget. I also figured that the pilot was merely a taste of the sheer insanity to come, seeing as how a full season of shows would only push farther in the same Looney direction. As I suspected, the full trailer for Black Dynamite: The Animated Series indeed promises a walk down the wild side.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
By Torrey Fields
How many of us growing up heard the phrase "Sticks and Stones may break....well you know the rest. That was usually what a lot of parents told us to say when we were picked on by others. Wow, times definitely changed!! Bullying has become the crowning topic of discussion lately and has plagued communities across the country for years. The aftermath can be damaging to both the physical and mental health. So, how do we fix this? What are the signs? Where do we turn for help? Have you or someone you know ever been bullied? Share your story and find out the answers to these questions and more on this special edition of The Gentlemen's Club Radio Show.
Nas has always been among rap’s lyrical elite. Over the past few years, has genius has been recognized by Hip-Hop’s current ruling class. YMCMB has featured him on both Lil Wayne’s mega-selling The Carter IV and Tyga’s debut studio album Careless World: Rise of the Last King. Nicki Minaj kissed him in the video for “Right By My Side.” Even Waka Flocka Flame, whose lyrically regressive style would seem to be the polar opposite of what Nas stands for, names the QB legend in his personal all-time top five. Of all these latter day admirers, only one has effectively bridged the gap from fan to collaborator: Ricky Ross. Rosay has logged a number of effective collaborations with the Nas over the last 3 years, none of which have been lackluster. In fact, these two bring out the very best in each other. Their latest paring, a new single from Life is Good titled “Accident Murderers,” continues their winning streak.
For years, the first Judge Dredd movie had been my only reference point for the character. Upon discovering this, a knowledgeable friend suggested I check out the comics. He enticed me to do so by saying that on the comic page, the character was like a British forerunner to Robocop. Years later, upon finally getting my hands on a trade paperback that included the legendary “The Cursed Earth,” story arc, I found his summation to be correct. Judge Dredd was very much a dark satire filled with brutal action. I then realized that a proper Judge Dredd film should be just like Paul Verhoven’s Robocop. The first trailer for Dredd seems to promise just that, sans the satire.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The first Judge Dredd movie sucked. There’s just no other way to put it. It was one of the worst blockbusters of 1995. In a year that included Batman Forever and Waterworld, that’s really saying something. It marked such a low point for comic-book adaptations that any future Judge Dredd film could only be a marked improvement, no matter how bad it turned out. While the buzz on the upcoming reboot Dredd hasn’t been exactly promising, fans continue to hold out hope. That hope seems to have been validated by ten seconds of footage that was previewed by Machinima today. It comes from the trailer that will be premiering on Thursday.
Trailers and TV Spots for The Dark Knight Rises have been coming at rapid fire succession for the past few weeks. One would think it possible to piece together the entire film with all the footage that has been revealed thus far. Yet, the barrage has no signs of slowing down. An exclusive Nokia trailer for The Dark Knight Rises appeared online earlier today. Those hoping for more spoilers and secrets will be sorely disappointed, as it offers nothing that previous trailers haven’t. It does, however, manage something much more subtle. It compiles elements of previous trailers and TV spots into a much more coherent narrative. It also lets the images speak for themselves, to the point where dialogue hardly seems necessary. A moment where Bane catches Batman’s fist in mid-air spells out the threat level of the film’s villain better than anything else that has been shown up until this point. The anarchic scenes of Police clashing with Bane’s mob in the streets of Gotham are startling in their scope. There also seems to be many more shots of Batman in broad daylight than ever before.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Batman is the most enigmatic of all superheroes. He exudes the most pathos, and invites the most analysis. He’s also the most enduring. He’s survived any number of incarnations over the past seventy three years, to varying degrees of success. Amazingly, his mystique has remained intact throughout. A number of different artists, all working in various mediums, have tried to pin him down. None of them have been able to conclusively answer the million dollar question: Who is Batman?
|Photo by Theo Botha.|
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Bottles fly in the club while bullets fly in the jungle on this week’s Scottscope Podcast! The Scottscope Roundtable takes a look at the recent altercation between Chris Brown and Drake at the W.i.P nightclub in New York City. Did Drake actually start the fight? Will C. Breezy ever get a handle on that funky temper of his, and where does Rihanna fit into all of this? We also discuss the bullet-riddled and blood soaked international trailer for Django Unchained. Is it disrespectful for a revenge flick to use slavery as a backdrop? Does Quentin Tarantino have a right to such a film? Last but not least, we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Predator, one of the greatest action films ever made. Is there a hidden racial subtext? What do the Predator’s dreadlocks symbolize, and where does this movie rank in Arnold’s filmography? These questions and more will be answered on this week’s edition of Scottscope!
Saturday, June 16, 2012
1987 was a big year for producer Joel Silver. Lethal Weapon was released on March 6th to great success. It launched a franchise and reinvented the buddy cop genre. Three months later, another Joel Silver production would stake a similar claim at the summer box office. It was yet another “high-concept” offering, as well as a genre mash-up. It would combine the militaristic jungle adventure motif of Rambo: First Blood Part II with the otherworldly menace of Ridley Scott’s Alien. While that might sound like an uneasy match, director John McTiernan made it work like gangbusters. Though the production nearly swallowed him whole, he stayed the course and finished the game. On June 12th, 1987, the world beheld the fruit of his labor. It was titled Predator.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Quentin Tarantino is known for both labored dialogue and extreme, sudden violence. Those two elements have always been his main calling cards. One thing that he has never been associated with is nonstop action. Though his movies contain their fair share of bloodletting, they aren’t particularly fast moving. His characters often spend way more time talking to each other than they do shooting at each other. Nevertheless, the international trailer for Django Unchained shows both the title character and his white liberator to be very trigger happy.
On July 16th 2011, all Hell suddenly breaks across the five boroughs. In Queens, a gang leader finds himself on the run from the cops. In Brooklyn, a young woman narrowly escapes being taken down in a drug bust. In the South Bronx, a young man flees the scene of a dogfight after engaging in a shootout. In Staten Island, a successful hustler narrowly escapes being murdered in his own home, only to find himself in a much worse predicament soon after. In the Bronx, a hooker breaks free of her brutal pimp while carrying his personal fortune in tow. Finally, things go horribly wrong when an armed robber in Yonkers turns what was supposed to be a routine job into a bloodbath.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
In light of Christopher Nolan’s massive success with the Batman brand, I find it interesting to look back at where the franchise was just before he came on board. After Batman Returns proved a bit too dark for mass audiences, Warner Brothers took the directing reigns from Burton and handed them over to Joel Schumacher. They hoped he’d be able to take things in more lucrative direction. He actually managed to do just that with 1995’s with Batman Forever. He then turned around and killed the franchise, and by extension the modern superhero film, with 1997’s Batman and Robin. Both films are equally bad, but the former wasn’t a total loss. There was a very memorable scene filmed for it that ended up on the cutting room floor. If nothing else, it proves that Joel Schumacher’s vision for the character wasn’t totally execrable.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial celebrated its 30th anniversary yesterday. For many, the film is a magical childhood touchstone. Its sentimental portrait of friendship struck a chord with audiences the world over. That is a testament to the skills of its writer/director, the legendary Steven Spielberg. Though it hasn’t quite stood the test of time the same way that other classics have (As the slightly disappointing box office returns of its 2002 re-release proved), it still looms large in the public consciousness. While its 30th birthday might bring about fond memories for some, it’s a bit of a downer for me. It reminds me of a deep dark secret I have harbored for all these years. As much of a Spielberg fan as I am, I’ve never really liked E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. In fact, as a child, I found it downright terrifying.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Scottscope Podcast 6/11/2012: Wu-Tang Lives Forever, The Prometheus Lands, E.T. Phones Home, and Nas Plays Executioner.
It’s all about Hip-Hop and aliens on this week’s Scottscope podcast! Hosts Scott Wilson, Chicago Wind, and Iron Lion will take listeners from the slums of Shaolin to the deepest reaches of space. First on the docket is the 15th anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s second album, Wu-Tang Forever. Has it aged well over the last decade and change? Next is up is the Alien Prequel Prometheus. Is it a worthy addition to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi resume? Also this week, Steven Spielberg’s all time box office hit E.T. the Extraterrestrial celebrates its 30th anniversary. Is it still the heartwarming classic it’s remembered to be? Last but not least, the Scottscope roundtable discusses Nas attempted mock lynching of Jay-Z at the 2002 Hot 97 Summer Jam. Did Godson take it just a tad too far?
At the dawn of the late 1990’s, Hip-Hop was in a transitional period. The murder of Tupac Shakur brought the reign of Death Row Records to a tragic end. It also seemed to signal the death knell for west coast gangsta rap as a whole. Likewise, the murder of the Notorious B.I.G seemed to signal the end of New York’s reemergence on the national rap radar. Though the Hip-Hop nation was in mourning, the time was clearly right for a new regime to assert its authority. Since the fall of 1993, Staten Island supergroup the Wu-Tang Clan had been carrying out a silent coup. In the wake of the East Coast/West Coast wars, they were poised to deliver their collective finishing move. Their five year plan would culminate in a massive double album opus. 1997 might have been the year that the greatest rapper of all time died, but it was also to be the year of the Wu.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Despite last weekend’s debacle now infamous debacle, Hot 97’s annual Summer Jam is no stranger to controversy. Hip-Hop is nothing if not provocative. Rappers are habitual envelope pushers, and will do just about anything to get a reaction from fans. Sometimes that tendency can get out of hand. In such moments, the powers-that-be step in and set clear boundaries. Nas found that out a decade ago, when he attempted to use the Summer Jam stage to decimate a popular opponent.
Friday, June 8, 2012
In the year 2089, archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) make a startling discovery. The couple uncovers a star map which seems to lead to a mysterious Alien race on a far off moon. They believe the map to be an invitation, and become obsessed with the idea of making contact with these strange beings. Elizabeth suspects they may be the architects of life on earth. Multibillionaire Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) agrees to fund the expedition, which includes the construction of a scientific space vessel called the Prometheus.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Special editions and boxsets have long been de rigueur for the home video format. Almost any notable film that one can think of gets the royal treatment sooner or later. Even not-so-notable films come loaded for bear with a number of special features and the like. With classic rap releases, such gifts and goodies rarely come down the pike. Even albums with actual liner notes are few and far between. That has been slowly changing over the last decade, as a number of seminal rap releases are now being treated with the reverence they deserve. The GZA’s second album, Liquid Swords, will soon become part of that exclusive club.
Superman’s personal code demands that he bring violent criminals to justice as opposed to killing them on the spot. He has always done so dutifully, and his public has always loved him for it. Alas, times are changing. The masses have grown weary of homicidal villains who seemingly don’t respond to Superman’s methods. Consequently, many world leaders begin to question Superman’s effectiveness as a hero. Enter The Elite, a violent super-team who offer themselves as a viable alternative. Unlike Superman, The Elite have no problem administering capital punishment. They see Superman as a relic of the past, and openly defy his authority. The ideological differences between the two culminate in a deadly showdown. Will truth, justice, and the American way ultimately prevail?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
In a sense, Denzel Washington and Robert Zemeckis have always been two peas in a pod. While both have made substantial contributions to popular cinema over the past 30 years, they’ve also always been their own worst enemies. Robert Zemeckis has a filmography full of all-time favorites, yet his Achilles heel has always been his lack of a distinctive filmmaking style. Denzel is a movie star in the classic sense, complete with an iconic persona. His problem has always been his ability (or lack thereof) to choose films which are worthy of his monumental acting talents. While a collaboration between these two might not remedy their perceived flaws, it still might yield something well worth watching.
To say that the trailer for Django Unchained starts off boldly is an understatement. It begins with a procession of African slaves being led through the desert in chains. After nightfall, their armed captor leads them through the woods by gaslight. They happen upon the seemingly harmless Dr. King Schultz (Christophe Waltz). Just after Django (Jamie Foxx) himself is introduced as one of the slaves, Dr. King Schultz is revealed to be his liberator. As James Brown’s “The Big Payback” kicks in on the soundtrack, a newly unshackled Django throws off his shroud as though he were the Godfather of soul himself. Thus begins the world’s first real look at Django Unchained.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
During my interview Michael Jai White, he toyed with the idea of playing The Black Panther. It’s a tantalizing prospect, to be sure. Mike definitely has the attitude and the physicality to pull it off. He’s also a pretty capable actor to boot. However, the likelihood of a Black Panther movie actually getting made is very low. Equally low is the probability that such a film would actually be done right. Well, it seems that Marvel Studios means to prove such notions wrong. T’Challa might be making his cinematic debut as early as 2012.
This has been a long time coming, but good things are worth waiting for. I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and do my very own podcast. The Scottscope will very much be an extension of this blog, and hopefully much more. Instead of reading my words, you’ll get to hear my sultry voice (or so I’ve been told). Since the show doesn’t really have a strict format yet, I’ve enlisted the help of my Gentlemen’s Club alumni. Both Chicago Wind and Iron Lion will be cohosting this time out. We go live at 6:30pm EST tonight.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Trailers are usually the best part of the movie going experience. They play like a highlight reel for the films they advertise. They sometimes even function as a more economical mode of storytelling than the main feature itself. That’s the one thing that both mainstream rap albums and summer blockbusters have in common. Both are preceded by tons of advance hype. These marketing campaigns are often more engaging and entertaining than the final product. If one rapper has consistently tried to be the rare exception to that unfortunate rule over the years, it’s been Nas. His tenth studio album, Life is Good, is rightfully one of this year’s most anticipated releases. The cover art for it was finally released today. It shows a rather pensive Nas sitting in a club with a green dress draped across his lap.
People love a good comeback story. The public loves to see an underdog defy the odds and rise to the top, only to sadistically relish in his downfall. Only then can he be cheered on as he gets off the mat and back onto the saddle. After all, can anyone truly relate to a hero who never loses? How boring is a champion who makes it to the top only to coast for the rest of his career and retire undefeated? Surely, such a hero isn’t worthy of having his own film franchise. Sylvester Stallone certainly didn’t think so, hence how he treated his most beloved cinematic creation. In Rocky III, the title character faced a much more fearsome challenge than ever before. That challenge made for one of the entertaining films of the 1980’s.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Hip-Hop may have been born in The Bronx, but much of its attitude and style was derived from the borough of Queens. Throughout the 1980’s, the burgeoning street culture flourished and thrived in neighborhoods like Hollis and Jamaica, as well as public housing developments such as Queensbridge. In those same areas, another culture developed alongside Hip-Hop, and at an equally prodigious rate. Its legacy is much darker, but no less far reaching. It produced legends of a much different sort, ones who sold narcotics and lorded over entire armies that held court in housing projects and local nightspots. These organizations became infamous throughout New York City, and none loomed larger than Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff and the Supreme Team. By the mid 1990’s, their exploits would be known the world over thanks to a new generation of rap