This week we mash the story of a legendary and legendarily ancient creature of goodness, a beacon in a world of vampires and wolves, into footage of people in shiny lycra running around and jumping. You decide which is Underworld: Awakening and which is Carol Channing: Larger Than Life. (Video mashup by Kate Rose.)
The new George Lucas production Red Tails is already familiar to the world's DSLR video users through the work of blogger and proselytizer Philip Bloom, who shot some of it using a Canon 5D Mark II. So, there's your evidence: Even George Lucas makes his blockbusters using a camera body you can buy for two grand on Amazon. You've no excuse. Make your damn movie, or shut up about it. As for the trailer, well two things spring to mind. First, if you've ever seen that footage taken from WWII movies that Lucas edited together to sell the idea of space dogfights in Star Wars back in the '70s, it kind of looks like that. Second, if you've seen The Tuskegee Airmen, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., it kind of looks like that. It's the same story, only with a lot more planes and different actors. Except Cuba Gooding Jr.
Underworld: Awakening? Underworld: Dozing. Here we go yet again with Kate Beckinsale in her spray-on vampire ninja togs. Emulating Paul W.S. Anderson, who turned his wife into a successful franchise via the Resident Evil zombie series, director Len Wiseman has achieved the same mercenary results putting his wife to work in a vampires-versus-werewolves series. Imagine the dinner parties. The salient difference is that Mrs. Anderson is a larger-than-life Ukrainian former supermodel, while Mrs. Wiseman is a perfectly respectable London actress affecting the accent of a Kensington shop assistant. The latter's enduring claim on the drool ducts of American men is confusing, to say the least. Other than generating saliva, the excuse for this third (is it really only three?) trip to Underworld is that third dimension again—the very 3-D that audiences demonstrably do not want but which Hollywood insists on as a default means of maintaining some semblance of control over her properties. As with so many films of this genre, literally everything in the trailer is in focus and mostly blue. The only genuine surprise is the appearance of a male character so fey he makes the swaying reeds of the Twilight series look like Visigoth marauders. Never did the words "We stand and fight" sound less likely to be a good idea.
Doc of the week is Carol Channing: Larger Than Life. Now that American showbiz has been recording itself on film long enough to follow its icons all the way from soup to nuts, and back to soup again, there will likely be one of these superstar profiles every week until the end of electricity. Not that Carol Channing isn't a deserving recipient of this honor. Fresh, flirty and at least as appealing now as in her prime (she may well still be in it), the 90-year-old Channing appears to be confused only by the idea that anyone should be surprised she is still around. What is very evident, it seems here, is that to a certain kind of man she is the perfect kind of woman. Hello Dolly, indeed.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is the latest iterate of a Japanese intellectual property that appears to have its origins in manga, but may not, and even though Wikipedia is up again today, who really cares? Because frankly, if you know what it is, you might go see it in a cinema, and if you don't, well, it doesn't have the mouse behind it telling you to, so you probably won't.
If Terrence Malick can still make The Tree of Life, said Steven Soderbergh recently, he too should be pushing harder at the edges of his filmmaking. He certainly can't be accused of adopting the same approach. Malick has directed five films in 38 years, Soderbergh 20 in 12. He has also found time to produce and exec some of the smartest movies of the past decade, including Michael Clayton, A Serious Man and We Have to Talk About Kevin. In lieu of saving up his talent for special occasions, Soderbergh has spread his glittering directing skills across an impressive range of genres: He made the timeless romantic comedy Out of Sight; he boldly attempted a remake of the unimprovable Solaris; he made a one-day reality-show home movie with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, Full Frontal; he cast a porn star in a movie aimed at a mainstream audience, The Girlfriend Experience; and now he's made a stuntwoman the lead in a straight-up, straight-to-DVD-looking action flick. Mixed martial artist Gina Carano has the jawline of Angelina Jolie, at least, and here plays an ex-Marine lined up for assassination for reasons the determining of which seems to require her to knock off one iconically representative specimen of male movie stardom after another, from the 1970s to the present, Michael Douglas to Channing Tatum. You have to ask? Of course Michael Fassbender is in it. And Ewan McGregor, for that matter. As for La Carano, her career could go Cynthia Rothrock or Zoe Bell, but it is unlikely to go Angelina Jolie. Soderbergh is probably attempting to do something more than taunt the audience with irritatingly knowing genre parody, but it's hard to see what. Haywire by name, and by nature, at least according to this trailer.