Trailer Reviews of '300: Rise of an Empire' and 'Pompeii' and Even Some Good Movies Too

Many trailers were released this week, which means it is all new stuff to be reviewed.  It also means we were able to successfully avoid having to watch that Haunted House 2 trailer.  We will see how many weeks we can get away with that.  This doesn't mean we didn't have to endure some stinkers.  Speaking of which, Scott and I started our review off with. . .

300: Rise of an Empire (March 7, 2014/Wide)

Christopher:  We kick off with this trailer, because Scott essentially turned his Belle review into a plea for it. This is also the hot new trailer that has just been released, and all the kids are getting excited and pumped about, so seems like it needs to be discussed. Call me an old fogey, but I don't really get the excitement. I'm actually not entirely convinced this is just the exact same movie with the same exact same scenes except they somehow CGIed Sullivan Stapleton in the place of Gerard Butler. I also not really sure what made this a new trailer compared to the one out a few months ago. I obviously am oblivious to the fine-tuned differences between the varieties of slow motion slashing and leaping. Of course, we also have a remixed version of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" this time around, just so we are helpfully told that things are now kick-ass.  All the things that made 300 stand out is exactly what made all the clones so irritating and aggravating to sit through, and I'm not seeing how this won't be just as a painful viewing experience. This actually looks like it may even have less story than the original or the rip-offs. The plus side is that it is a different director in Noam Murro, so maybe the female leads will be depicted in a strong way. The downside is his one other picture is a comedy starring Dennis Quaid, so he is a tad unproven in this area.  But at least he seems to have already mastered the art of showing a guy flying through the air with his sword held high ready to strike, because cinemas don't allow these types of movies in without that scene.

Scott:  When I read ‘War Pigs’ in Chris’ write up, I thought, ‘surely, he must be joking.’  It turns out that he is not, and this trailer really feels like they are kicking promotion into high gear in fears of having not generated enough buzz off of previous attempts.  Why else would we have such an overdramatic, kick-ass feel to it?  I guess it is possible that it is just an over-dramatic, kick-ass movie, or at least it is trying to be one.  They also really push the fame of Zack Snyder in the trailer, obviously knowing that it is the main selling point that they have to go on in this film that simply looks like a repackaged version of the original.  The one hopeful spot that stood out is the possibility of a strong female character, although Chris already pointed that out.  That being said, it will probably just be about guys hewing other guys in slow-mo.

I should add that this really was my fault, and that there is a good reason why Chris wants to stay clear of sword and sandal movies this year.  It is just repetitive, heartless, movie production done with minimal effort to create a cash cow.  For some reason it has become my mission to get Chris to the theatres to see one of these films this year.

Cesar Chavez: An American Hero (March 28, 2014/Limited)

Christopher:  The melodramatic score along with scenes seeping with emotion and constant show of adversity for the protagonist to overcome set in the past screams Oscar bait. My Spicy Senses start tingling when the release date is way off from awards seeking season. Though 42 was one of my favourite pictures of 2013 and it was released in April, and plus most smaller studios tend to release their pedigree films outside of the Oscar months due to the major studios crammer their pictures into the prime spots. I can't really judge the quality based on the date of release, and there is a lot that looks good even if it is a typical grabbing for the emotions type of historical picture trailer.

Michael Pena is an interesting choice for the main lead, because he isn't the one I'd first choose for a historical drama that will rely on some emotive and layered performing. Most of his major roles have come from either pulpy picture like Gangster Squad or comedies like Tower Heist. This isn't to say he doesn't have the skill to pull off the lead role in an emotional drama, and he did show off his acting chops in the critically acclaimed End of Watch. I've liked him in many of his supporting roles (he was great in American Hustle as the Mexican officer posing as a sheik) but the key is how well he can get out his usual acting style to pull this off. Back in 2011, I wouldn't have been confident in Bradley Cooper being nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, yet it only took one picture in Silver Lining Playbook to completely change how he was viewed in Hollywood. I can at least give Pena his shot to transform how he is viewed and have his big breakout role.

He has some pretty quality back-up with a cast consisting of John Malkovich, Rosario Dawson, America Ferrera, Wes Bentley, and Gael Garcia Bernal (No). This is definitely the type of material that can push actors to showcase their talents, but also allow for some more nuanced and complicated performances as well. Director Diego Luna only has one full length feature to his credit with Abel, but that was a well-received picture and he has several producer credits. His first film was one that really did demand some great performances, and so hopefully, he can pull out great showing from a talented cast a second time.

It is an important story that is still relevant today, and one that despite the title, seems to be attempting to show several layers to Chavez.  It doesn't just look like a deification of a prominent civil rights activist. It looks to be attempting to show that he was a complicated man that was great but also was more than just the saviour of the proletariat. There were some hints towards the issues he had at home and the strain his hard work had on his family. This will hopefully allow for underrated actors like Ferrera to shine and demonstrate her immense talents (she is better known for comedic roles).

The challenge will be for it to not get overly-sentimental or fall into the clichés of the countless biopics. The trailer makes me both apprehensive and intrigued. It is a solid cast with a good story, and it looks like they're avoiding trying to be too stylized or "action-packed." The key will be coming off authentic and not resorting to just having an emotional punch.

Scott:  This is a very interesting film, which through the trailer, makes me think that it may not come in a perfect package, but that it may be still be an interesting and emotional story.  While the trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire asserted a dominance of ‘epic shots,’ the trailer for this movie asserts an assault on our emotions.  What will most likely determine the effectiveness of this film’s attempts will be on how nuanced the performances will be, or at least that is my best guess.  In a film where we go into it knowing that our fortitude will be tested, it seems to be the small things that allow, or hinder, the objective from being completed.  In 2013’s Fruitvale Station, the audience knows exactly what will happen at the end of the movie, but it was the intricate performances by the actors and the attention to detail in the directing that still allowed it to have a huge emotional impact.  This film will come out swinging, trying to sway emotions, and it will come down to the finer elements to dictate whether or not it will be successful.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (March 7, 2014/Wide)

Christopher:  I essentially wrote this film off the moment I heard about it. This whole journey to find a franchise is getting a little ridiculous considering this is based off a small cartoon segment from a series in the '60s. Now, it was an awesome cartoon series that can likely still be watched on TeleToon or a similar channel, but it still seems like mining a recognizable name for a target audience that wouldn't have a clue. Now saying all that, after being subjected to countless different trailers and promotional materials for this movie, my hard exterior has been cracked and I'm starting to get just a tad interested in possibly seeing this. Probably helps that the absence of Pixar this year is causing me to have to seek other options for my animation fix.

The trailer looks like clips from what could be a pretty fun movie, and gives off a vibe that not all the best jokes were served up in the attempt to lure the audience out to the big screen.  The small annoyance I have is that this film seems incredibly modern and doesn't have any of the feel or vibe of the original Peabody's Improbable History segment from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody is perfect casting, and I love that along with Muppets Most Wanted, he is getting exposure beyond Modern Family. Phil Dunphy has also brought along his daughter Alex, as Ariel Winter is voicing Sherman's -- what I suppose will be his -- enemy turned lover interest. Looking at the casting list, there is a pretty fun collection of voices that should add life to the odd assortment of characters including Stephen Colbert, Allison Janney, Ellie Kemper, Mel Brooks and Leslie Mann. I could have listed a few more that I think are great fits for animated voicing, but that is what IMDb is for.

There was one scene with all the historical characters being confronted by the police that made it feel a bit like an animated version of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. I'm hoping that is a final act deal, rather than half the movie being historical characters doing zany things in modern times. Animation allows one to tell stories that are far too expensive and ambitious for live action, so I'm hoping for lots of adventures in various locales and time periods. The trailer seems to hint at that, and I really hope they've kept many moments hidden. This really could be a lot of fun. It also could just be that I'm a sucker for time travel too.   

The one thing that makes me think the magic of time transporting is clouding my judgement is the very disturbing fact that some sites are citing 7 different screenwriters for the script. The more writers on a movie usually means a disaster is ready to explode on the screen. I'm also not sure if those many names are consultation or rewrites or attributions to past works that inspired this film. I have to admit an army of writers makes me nervous. On the other hand, the director is Rob Minkoff, and though his track record as a director is a bit spotty, this was the man who helmed The Lion King, so he can be trusted to make a heart-warming but terrifically fun animated adventure.

Scott:  And now here’s something we hope you’ll really like, as Mr. Peabody and Sherman dust themselves off, head out of retirement and onto the big screen.  I guess this was the next logical step to happen in the battle to redevelop franchises, and there have already been a few movies made from the popular Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  The only crazier thing that could happen at this point is if they decided to reboot Dudley Do-Right.  I suppose they could venture into other segments from the show and bring out Fractured Fairy Tales or Roger Ramjet, and even though I should be surprised if they ever do such a thing, I probably won’t be.

If this were a live action movie, I would say that it was a horrible miscalculation, and the audience that would be familiar enough with the source material to market it to probably would not care to see the movie.  However, the animated version is brilliant as the trailer is made in a fun way where the fresh eyes of children can get excited by the adventurous tale that it promotes, and the parents of the children may not mind taking them to see it because they have fond memories as well.  There seem to be three times of year that could be great for an animated film, and March is one of those times.  Last year The Croods brought in $187 million, the year before Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax made $214 million, and in 2011 Rango was able to lead the March box office with $123 million.  While I suppose I should be commenting on the trailer and what it makes me think, my mind starts heading into box office analysis mode, and I think this movie will be entertaining enough to children and adults to do extremely well in the box office.

The Quite Ones (April 25, 2014/Wide)

Christopher:  This is a very typical "jump scare" horror trailer that makes everything extra irritating and silly by trying to pass off some of the ridiculous moments as being based on some real event. Is there anyone ready to believe this picture after they just saw a poorly CGIed puke demon spiral towards the screen? This seems to be trying to sell itself as a The Exorcist meets Amityville Horror meets a year's supply of caffeine. This movie likely exists and is even getting a shot to go wide, because of the success of The Conjuring, since it set in the same time period and playing off the whole a "spirit is attached to you" concept. I'm sure I have many other of these clones to look forward to in the coming year. After saying all that, I have a feeling this trailer may not be properly representing what this movie will really be like. This movie may actually have a more patient pace and concentrate on a disturbing atmosphere rather than cheap scares, and it was just cut to look like a different movie. It is really the first half of the trailer that makes me think the picture may be something smarter, but it could just as easily be a festival of cheap effects and gut-busting goofy scare attempts. Director John Pogue doesn't give me much hope as his only other directorial effort was sequel to a found-footage movie, and his writing efforts (he assisted with this screenplay) consist of either cinematic disasters or direct-to-video sequels to cinematic disasters. It just takes one movie for a director to change his reputation, but that pesky puke demon tells me this probably isn't it.

Scott:  And now we have in front of us a horror movie that is ‘based on true events,’ something which means absolutely nothing.  The Amityville Horror was based off of a true story that was a lie, and yet it can still claim that it is based on it because some technically did lie about it in real life.  Speaking of that story, apparently there are a few more of those on the way for all those fans of that tale, and one of them may be The Conjuring 2, which will probably say ‘based on a true story,’ even though it is a well-documented lie.  All of that to say, ‘based on a true story’ means pretty much nothing at all in movies, and especially in horror films.

The trailer boasts that it is from the producer of Let Me In, which could give a mild dosage of hope to fans of quality horror films.  What the trailer does not tell people, and much more importantly, is that the director John Pogue has only ever directed one other film in his life, and that film was Quarantine 2: Terminal, a fact that should deflate all hopes someone may have in the film.  The trailer shows a lot of use of what has become a very generic soundtrack of loud noises in recent horror films, which does not bode well for a quality tale.  Seriously, silence can be deadly scary, and nobody uses it.  Scary music is not scary when it has been used over, and over, and over.  I doubt there will be any finesse in this movie, and that it will just resort to typical moments and scares that other horrors attempt, and I am not excited about it at all.  Now, there were two horror movies in the last half year that I was incredibly not excited about due to the trailers and ended up being completely surprised by (one of them was a favourite of 2013), so I am not ruling out the possibility of eating my words.

Walk of Shame (April 25, 2014/Wide)

Christopher:  Ever since the huge success of Bridesmaids, there has been a series of comedy pictures designed to be starring vehicles for talented and funny actresses. Last year we had films designed to be career launchers for Aubrey Plaza (The To Do List), Kristen Wig (Girl Most Likely) and Melissa McCarthy (Identity Thief). Only Thief turned out to be a big success, but it was pretty obvious none of those films were really great canvases for the incredible performers to create their art and showcase their skill. Those pictures didn't really play to the strengths of the actresses, but rather had just been formulaic comedies that we've seen many times before but now with women. I know Bridesmaids and Heat are essentially that as well, but there was writing that allowed the comic timing and talents of the cast to really shine through in those cases.

So, now struts in Walk of Shame the starring vehicle for the very talented and funny Elizabeth Banks in a movie that doesn't really look all that funny or original. It also borrows clichés from countless previous movies in an attempt to paste together a "crazy odyssey across the wacky city while on a giant time crunch" movie. These movies can definitely work with Planes, Trains, and Automobiles being the crown jewel and many folks being fans of pictures like Date Night and Adventures in Babysitting as well. This picture just feels fresh out of the factory for quirky comedies by hitting all the standbys of mousy girl suddenly transforming into a beautiful and confident woman, the sudden announcement she needs to be somewhere quick at the worst possible time, the car being towed off right when it was needed most, venturing through the rough streets in the worst attire, cops mistaking the lead for committing a crime, and of course, winning over the street thugs with gumption. This is all funny because some studio executives saw it in better movies.

Banks has been a showstealer on sitcoms like Modern Family and is the best part in movies like Zack and Miri Make a Porno, so I desperately want her to elevate the material here. Maybe it is just a really bad trailer and this is far fresher and colourful than what is being hinted.  It wouldn't be the first or last time I totally misread a trailer (thanks a lot, RIPD). I would consider Banks almost enough of a draw to get me out, but then there is director and writer Steven Brill with movies like Drillbit Taylor, Little Nicky, Without a Paddle, and a segment of Movie 43 all on his resume. Fresh, original, and funny don't necessarily seem to be requirements for most of his comedies. Though he wrote The Mighty Ducks, so maybe all can be forgiven.

There were two scenes in this trailer that got a chuckle out of me. Both of them were more based on Banks' delivery than the actual material. When a criminal running away from her wonders why she is so fast, she throws in an off-handed comment about being a former track star, which I found brilliant with her matter-of-fact delivery. The other fun part was her letting the officer know that you can't block a 'boop' with a hand, which again was more just her sincerity that made it work. There really is a chance that this could be like Identity Thief where everything was contrived and manufactured, but the stars really showcased their comedic gifts to make it somewhat enjoyable. 

Final thing about this trailer is the appearance of the once proclaimed next big star, James Marsden who seems destined to now eternally be in supporting roles. He is pretty talented but he seems stuck in the role of just being that cute cocky guy or JFK. Though the second may actually eventually lead him into more prestigious pictures. At least Marsden pops around for a few minutes in other people's movies, which is far more work and success than the other next big star, Josh Hartnett. I'd consider that a win for Marsden on the staying power front.

Scott:  It really is unfortunate that I get excited about a movie that is not a romance that is carried by a female actor.  I should not get excited, because it should happen approximately fifty percent of the time.  The reality is that it does not, so I like it when it comes around.  However, as Chris pointed out, it seems less to be coming out of a sincerity than it does a rush to catch on a newly discovered trend founded by Bridesmaids.  While the trailer was just a series of clips from other movies that I have seen, I think this film could be a bit of a sleeper and has a bit of potential.  I am hesitant on predicting it to do well because the other female-led movies were either ensembles or pairings, and this one is a straight female lead on her own.  While there may be a bit of a push for female leads, it is interesting that these movies are usually directed by men.  I believe a study showed that less that 20% of the people working behind the camera on movies are females, a stat that shows the current state and remind us that these female driven movies are still not representative of women. 

Wow, I am rambling on a lot about that.  Probably because I think it is more interesting a topic than the trailer.  I have no faith in the writing and directing credits of Steven Brill, and I doubt this movie will have many moments of humour (outside of Bank’s delivery, but Chris already mentioned that… and I can’t believe he has claimed fond memories of The Mighty Ducks, a film that still makes me shake my fists at the heavens to this day, unless he referenced it sarcastically)

Adult World (February 14, 2014/Limited)

Christopher:  I was totally grooving to the first half of this movie and ready to bemoan the fact it likely won't end up anywhere near where I live. The casting of Emma Roberts and John Cusack is inspired and wonderful. Watson can play whiney and self-entitled but still be endearing, which is exactly what you want out this starving poet that has to find a real job at a mom and pop adult book store. Cusack pulls off the curmudgeonly and slightly pretension writer who is almost annoyed about his fame in the most glorious of ways. These are perfect roles for the two actors, and the first half was hilarious but also had me nodding my head with delight.

I am a creative type, as I've made clear many times. I am also a professional writer. I like to think that I at least know how some of us are wired. I also have some friends that are writers, and I interact with them enough to get a good idea of their behaviour. This is why I got a big kick out the over-dramatic writer shoving her head in the oven or talking about how she is in a period where she must create and essentially, squeezing everything for its dramatic worth. I have a soft spot for indy films like this, because it is fun watching the obstacles that creative folks often toss at themselves in order to make their jobs appear sacrificial and grueling. Hell, I embarrassingly must admit besides the poet part, there is lot of me in both characters. The created writer struggle in this movie is similar to why I loved Inside Llewyn Davis, because he shunned commercialism to be a self-ordained saint of folk music. The first half also almost felt like it could grab a bit of that cynical with hidden sweetness contained in the wonderful Young Adult.

Then the second half lost its authenticity and seems more concerned trying to get some easy laughs. I'm hoping it is just the way the trailer was framed. I'm totally down for a movie about a struggling poet trying to suffer in order to impress the too-cool-for-school professor with a healthy dose of cynicism, self-awareness, and dark humour.

Scott:  I have to completely echo Chris on this one, as he took the words that I had to say for it.  It got me very excited to show a dramatic and comical coming of age movie with a unique twist, but then devolved into very generic jokes.  It is funny because I expect movies to shit the bed halfway through, but it is odd that a number of trailers, which can be assembled in so many ways, with so much control over the message and the content, can follow the same route as movies and be unable to hold to singular voice.

Alan Partridge: The Movie (TBA 2014)

Christopher:  I have to confess my ignorance as I know very little about the Alan Partridge character. I do know it is a Steve Coogan character that has been around for over 20 years and has appeared on numerous BBC radio and TV specials. I'd assume it may also be something similar to a Borat or Ron Burgundy (at least during the ad campaign) where he appears at actual events as the character and hilarity ensures.  Except in this case since it is Coogan, hilarity actually comes forth. This picture was actually already released in Britain under the title Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, which I'm assuming is a title the crazy Brits would get but the North Americans need the even funnier title of Alan Partridge: The Movie. Sometimes, we need to be told why we're sitting down watching something for two hours, "Oh it is a movie, so this is why I am in a cinema and eating popcorn."

Coogan has had a bit of a dramatic run lately with movies like Philomena and What Maisie Knew, and has been able to prove his versatility as an actor. It is comforting to see him return to his comedic roots where he dishes out heaping amounts of snark and wit. The movie also seems to have a nice balance of subtle humour and complete goofball chicanery. There is enough evidence in the trailer that the jokes will be slightly more twisted and odd-ball than the usual American fare, which is exactly what I want from an import.

It sort of reminds a bit of Airheads with the whole taking a radio station hostage. It could even have a few winks towards the movie that likely even inspired airhead, Dog Day Afternoon. It also looks like the story won't stay in that location for the whole movie. There appears to be equal amounts of bonding and battling between Coogan and Colm Meaney. I'm expecting a pretty fun film out of this one, and hopefully, a good reception causes it to get a decent sized release.

Scott:  This trailer has me extremely excited, as it is classic British humour dealt out in heapin’ helpins’ by the very talented Steve Coogan, who will most likely make my stomach ache while I am watching this movie from having laughed too hard.  Coogan is a comedian who is blessed with amazing timing and delivery, and I have a lot of faith that this film will not disappoint.  It is hard to guess just how violent this movie might get, and that is the only worrisome part, as sometimes it can be very hard to blend humour and violence while keeping the same feeling and tone.

Better Living Through Chemistry (TBA)

Christopher:  Sam Rockwell is one of the current indy darlings as he's constantly shown an incredible diversity in the type of characters he plays. He was the fun-loving man-child in The Way, Way Back and the emotionally unstable guy living on a space station in Moon. The two roles were both awards worthy and elevated already strong movies, but also were just proof of Rockwell being one of the top performers today who doesn't land major films. The smaller film streak continues here, but so does the proof of his ability to play different parts. This time around he plays a rather geeky push-over pharmacist, which is a wildly different role from his confident party animal in The Way, Way Back. He also seems to transform a bit into a bad-ass, but I'm sure Rockwell will stick to some moments of being unsure and panicked throughout the picture.

My Rockwell love is enough to make me eager to see this picture. I also am excited to see the very talented Olivia Wilde being given a significant role to showcase her talents and sexiness. She hasn't really played too many sordid types, but it looks like she can pull it wonderfully. I also dig that this movie seems to have several different stories that aren't revealed in the trailer. There looks to be an investigation going on that isn't directly tied to the drugs -- maybe a murder. This looks sort of like an updated version of The Whole Nine Yards with an unscrupulous character inspiring and transforming a meeker character into someone more dangerous, but this time with a romantic element. Ray Liotta has also had some great supporting roles lately, so I'm excited to see how he plays into things too.

It will likely be one of those in and out movies that largely gets forgotten. It also looks a lot more interesting than many of the wide releases coming up.

Scott:  It is very intriguing to see Sam Rockwell as a very small, mild, and timid character.  The man is very skilled at the art of nuanced roles, and I am expecting some very talented stuff from him based off of the trailer, which will mean once again fans of his will be begging the question of why he has not caught on with the mainstream.  The supporting cast in this looks like it could help get some attention his way, as Olivia Wilde is growing her name, Michelle Monaghan is a solid actress, and Ray Liotta is a sure-fire star.

What makes me wonder in this movie is how well the serious elements will be pulled off, as the clips are short but do not give me the most confidence in their execution.  Helming the film are first time writer/directors Geoff Moore and David Posamentier, and their talents will be put to the test for sure in this film.  Movies with dark content can really miss the mark for audiences, and it almost seems to be playing with fire, to a degree.  The trailer looks like it travels that road, and I am left wondering just how well it will pull it off.  The good news is that I will find out, because I am all kinds of interested in this cast and movie.

The Raid 2: Berandal (March 28, 2014/Limited)

Christopher:  The Raid: Redemption was an Indonesian martial arts action picture that did surprisingly well in North America based off its release size. It also reviewed favorable amongst critics that saw it, and is a pretty huge cult hit already. This is all a bit surprising to me, since based off the trailers it was just about a bunch of guys fighting on the stairway because the elevator was broken. But maybe I wasn't paying attention all that well.

It seems to have taken up space in the land of pop culture already, and based off that fact alone, I need to watch the original. The sequel gets out of the one location and now there is bat and hammer smashing, sword slashing, and plenty of kicks to happen in several locales. The action in this looks pretty insane, and it is going to be a two hour adrenaline rush kind of picture. I definitely appreciate that it looks like a good bit of the fight sequences are choreographed rather than resorting to special effects or doing that annoying just shoot a bunch of flailing limbs. It will likely be a movie looking to serve up some innovative action sequences along with some unforgettable kills. This will be the action fans manna for the year.

I also have to admit martial arts pictures aren't an area I'm an expert. It is a genre where I've missed many of the classics. But I'm willing to be trained, and I mind as well start with this series.

Scott:  I have had a number of people tell me that I need to see The Raid: Redemption, and I really have no reason not to, because I believe that it is on Netflix.  It is always great when a foreign film makes it in North America on its own and does not need to be introduced via North American remake.  This cult classic is one that I really do need to sit down and see at some point, because punching, jumping, and kicking always have the potential to lead to awesome.

Judging by the trailer for The Raid 2, they have the standard punching, jumping, and kicking, and have added into the mix cars, motorcycles, and various other foreign objects.  Who cares about the plot?  Who cares about the character development?  Not I.  That sort of thing is not what a movie like this is about, it is about a bad-ass cop (well, I guess that is a bit of character development) who punches, jumps, and kicks a bunch of baddies all over the place.  It looks like it could be some fun, but also it looks like it could be pulling a Matrix sequel and thinking that more is better, such as the scene where Neo fights a bunch of Agent Smiths in a battle that ultimately gets boring and repetitive.

Pompeii (February 21, 2014/Wide)

Christopher:  Since Scott has been begging for way more "sword and sandal" movies on here, I decided to give his birthday present gift early by putting two in the article this week. This is the Japanese trailer, but it is about as easy or even easier to follow than the American version. I'm going to leave this one for Scott, since he loves Paul W.S. Anderson so much.

Scott:  Gladiators, awful special effects, and for some reason, a volcano that ties them all together… seriously, this plot has nothing to do with the volcano and is just a way to shoehorn the historic name recognition into an awful movie.  I liked the Japanese trailer much better than the American ones, although my only complaint is that it is roughly around forty seconds too long.  If it was shortened down that much, I seriously believe it would be that much better.

Chris is a nut, and had no need to insert two of these movies into the review queue, but it is almost fitting because they both steal from 300.  However, Pompeii raises the bar as it also steals from Gladiator, something that 300 is not bold enough to do.  The movie looks awful, seriously, undeniably, awful.  I have seen a number of trailers and spots for it now, and there has not been a single one that makes it look like there is any reason to see this movie.

Chris is right, I do have some feelings for Paul W. S. Anderson, and they are not great ones.  If it were not for the success of the Resident Evil franchise, this man would probably not be getting big films, and probably should not be getting them anyways.  He does not have a good track record of films making a profit.  In 2011, The Three Musketeers made $140 million on a budget of $90 million (it would have needed to make around $200 million to break even),  in 2008 Death Race made $72 million on a budget of $65 million (needed over $140 million to break even), in 2004 he pulled a modest profit on Alien vs. Predator, in 1998 the movie Soldier made $14 million on a budget of $75, in 1997 Event Horizon (which I will admit to enjoying) made $26 million on a budget of $60 million, and in 1995 he had success on Mortal Kombat which brought in $122 million on a budget of $20 million.  So, out of the non-Resident Evil movies, only two of his movies have made money, with some of them losing huge chunks.  In this case, the budget is currently estimated at north of $100 million, which means it needs to succeed a lot more than his other films.  This is not to talk about his style, which I have some comments on, but more speaks to the fact that audiences generally don’t groove on his works.  I don’t wish him any ill will as a human being; I just don’t want to see any more of his films.