Sony Pictures presented its 2012 slate at Cinemacon five or six hours ago. I don’t want to go out on a limb, but apart from Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty, which wasn’t even mentioned, the Sony guys don’t seem very interested in adult-appeal, review-driven films this year. Or they’re persuaded that idiot fare makes exhibitors feel soothed and taken care of because it sells more popcorn or whatever. Either way the reels shown on the Collisseum screen inside Ceasar’s Palace made it seem as if they’re aiming low and predictable.
So for me the Sony product reels didn’t cut it except for two semi-goodies — Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man and Sam Mendes‘ Skyfall, the latest 007 film. Otherwise they mostly showed ultra-primitive, power-slam, bass-thump CG stuff for the under-educated simians, schmoes, ESPNers, what-the-fuckers, gamers and others whose taste buds have been systematically coarsened and lowered over the last 20 or 25 years, which is roughly when theme-park movies began to be embraced big-time by the major studios.
Aside from Hope Springs, a light-hearted septugenarian sexual therapy comedy by way of a marital relationship flick with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, all I saw, felt and heard today was THUMP, whuh-DUMP!, whoossshhh, bluh-BOOM! BOOM! Buh-buh-BOOM! CANK-CANK-CANK!….bah-dah-bupp-pop, bah-dup-dup, baddah-bup…screeshhhhhh!!…ROWRRLLL and a WHUMP and a WHOOM! with about 18 shots of guys falling from very high buildings and never once slamming into the pavement and instantly becoming a splattered Big Mac because anyone can fall from any height in a big-studio movie these days and escape injury….c’mon, you know that!
They’re flying! They’re flying! Men and women who sail like spiders and seagulls over steel towers and concrete jungles!
A couple of exhibitors or conventioneers or whatever sitting behind me were delighted with all this. At one point a younger, dark-haired guy in a white Eurotrash shirt exclaimed “wow!” and then “whoa!” I immediately turned around and scowled at him and said, “What are you, an asshole?” All right, I didn’t say that but I turned around and scowled. At one point I said out loud to no one in particular, “Are they fucking kidding?”
Total Recall and Men in Black 3 felt to me like the biggest drags with Loopers, a Joseph Gordon Levitt-meets-Bruce Willis time-travel thriller, close behind. Everything about this action-fantasy trio felt rote and primitive and simplistic. Sony also promo-reeled an Adam Sandler-meets-Andy Samberg comedy called That’s My Boy, an obviously shallow African-American pop soul musical called Sparkle with American Idol‘s Jordin Sparks and the the late Whitney Houston, and David Koepp‘s long-delayed Manhattan bike-messenger movie called Premium Rush.
To repeat, Hope Springs appears to be the one film besides Zero Dark Thirty that’s aimed at over-35s.
The point is that nothing looked all that great. Nothing really turned me on. It all felt like franchise gruel and formula deck-shufflings.
Even Spider-Man and Skyfall felt like the same old basic prime rib (or meat loaf), mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy on the side. How fresh can either be? Mendes is a class-act helmer and Andrew Garfield looks like he does a fine job as Peter Parker but a franchise film is a franchise film.
In fact, I think we were actually being shown pieces of one big long CG-idiot action film, lasting 12 or 13 hours, called Son Of The Amazing Total Skyfall Rush With Aliens.
This is the studio that produced and distributed Moneyball last year, but boy, you’d never know it. The Sony voices that said “let’s make as much money as we can by investing big-time in tentpoles and appealing to the under-25 morons and shovelling out the same old action-fantasy slop, using the same beats and the same CG and the same old bullshit comic-book dynamic” obviously ruled.
Here’s a pretty good description of the Skyfall reel or trailer or whatever from Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas.