The year 2012 was a glimmer of cinematic hope in the recent 15 years or so that has been lurking in the shadow of crappy films. With releases like “The Cabin in the Woods,” “The Avengers,” and Quentin Tarantino’s see-it-four-times-it’s-totally-worth-it “Django Unchained,” this past year had the potential to pave the way for a new era of tolerable Hollywood releases. But looking at the earliest trailers for 2013, paving any cinematic way seems to be abandoned in favor of box-office roadblocks, and for every spirit-raising “Monsters University” or “World War Z,” there’s something like these next seven to bring that spirit crashing back down like the Hindenburg.
7. Dark Skies
From the creators of “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” and “Sinister,” comes the exact same movie, with aliens. As terrifying as I find it to watch a woman repeatedly bash her own face into a sliding-glass door, it seems hilariously similar to a Squidward-esque therapy technique. You can have as many 6-year-old boys gaze with empty eyes at some unknown demon off-screen as you want, but the fear dissipated long after Danny Torrance did the exact same thing in 1980.
6. Safe Haven
I’m convinced that there was only one photo shoot dedicated to Nicolas Sparks’ movies (and all of their carbon copy knock-offs) way back in 2004 when “The Notebook” came out. The photographer told the male model to pose as if the first piece of edible human food he had seen in six weeks was located right behind the female’s eyeballs, and for the female other to act like she had no idea this man was clasping her face out of ravenous needs. From there until now, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, and most recently, Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel were superimposed onto the original models respective faces for the posters, the same way they were superimposed into the same plotline. The same plotline that takes a close second behind the “Twilight” series when it comes to warping young girls’ images of what a relationship should be like. Effectively getting me in a lot of trouble when I sometimes “forget” to work my amnesiac ex-wife back into love with me. How ironic.
5. The Croods
DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods” features Nicolas Cage in a voice role as a paranoid, conservative cave-man who has to face an ever-so-insightful metaphor of progressive thinking when some radically thinking new character comes up with revolutionary new ideas, like fire.
I have a personal beef with DreamWorks because of they cannot grasp how pathetic they are compared to Pixar. It is very clear that they want to sell a story whereas Pixar wants to tell it. The fact that the most recent “Ice Age” movie (What is it? Seven? I can’t remember if there’s more of those or “Seinfeld” episodes), stars people like Drake and Rihanna, does nothing but prove how DreamWorks hires actors only for marquee value, and the fact that people will buy tickets based only on who is in their film. You cannot tell me that Jack Black was the deciding factor in the brilliance that was Dreamwork’s “Shark Tale.” Or that a movie about an overweight panda who does kung fu could never be completed without the sultry sounds of Angelina Jolie’s voice permeating into your pre-pubescent kid’s skull. So throwing the whimsical vocal tones of Nicolas Cage and Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone and whoever else into the same seepage that DreamWorks churns out time and time again does not stand out as celluloid brilliance.
4. The Hangover Part III
Do these guys not get it yet? The outside world does not take kindly to that which comes from suburban Middle-America. If these are the sacrifices and dangers you go through on a regular basis just to party with your buddies, maybe it’s time to take a long look in the mirror.
3. The Fast and the Furious 6
No. That’s enough.
Here is another prime example of DreamWorks being the Juicy-Juice to Pixar’s CapriSun. The MegaBlox to Pixar’s Legos. Here we have Ryan Reynolds playing a garden snail who wants to be a racer of some kind. Oh wow kids! It’s a great wholesome story about overcoming your adversities to pursue what you believe in! No. It’s another movie to be added to piles upon piles of movies about stereotypical animals in situations decidedly against their typical nature. Zoo animals that are forced to live in the wild, a large terrifying shark who doesn’t want to be a killer, a penguin from a species known for singing that learns to dance instead. As long as the creative executives at DreamWorks – I’m assuming a highly-salaried team of incoherent brine shrimp – know their opposites, we will all keep getting treated to their cinematic mastery time after time.
1. Pain and Gain
The tagline for this film is “Their American Dream is Bigger than Yours” and the poster features Mark Wahlburg and Dwayne Johnson sitting on a bench press. “Pain and Gain” is directed by Michael Bay, and if you are not yet convinced that it will undeniably suck, there’s not a whole lot I can do for you. At one point in the trailer – an artsy little montage of Wahlburg and The Rock finding every opportunity to work out like they’re playing their own “Family Guy” caricatures – Wahlburg’s character shouts out the line, “I’ve watched a lot of movies, I know what I’m doing,” as if Mr. Bay is subliminally reassuring the masses with, “I’ve been to the pictures before, how hard could it be?”