- If you have a problem, if no one else can help…
The A-Team: Since I haven’t seen this movie yet, for the moment I can safely limit my quibbles to one: I’m fine with recasting this whole movie with Hollywood people; even that smarmy Bradley Cooper fellow seems like a decent fit and I’m kind of loving Liam Neeson’s newfound ability to slum, which he honed in classier popcorn movies like Phantom Menace and Batman Begins before going the full Taken/Titans/A-Team route. However, there’s no excuse for not casting younger and/or more famous people as three out of the four team members as planned but just having Mr. T reprise B.A. Baracus anyway. Even with the age differences and continuity questions, I guarantee this would be less confusing than the idea of someone else playing B.A. Baracus. As is, we have Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and I don’t know how that’s gonna work out. Best of luck, buddy, but the likelihood that you will ever have a comic book called Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the Rampage Force is extremely low. Maybe if this new A-Team movie is a hit, as I sort of assume it will be because we haven’t really had a big hit movie in a few weeks now, it’ll turn into something like the Mission: Impossible franchise, where each installment has a different director with a different idiosyncratic take on extremely boilerplate material, and each director, like first-at-bat Joe Carnahan, will be someone previously rumored to direct a Mission: Impossible sequel.
The Karate Kid: Instead of an expensive summer camp, apparently Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith (you know her as TV’s tough-as-nails nurse, HAWTHORNE! If you see a nurse who cares so much that she’s getting dragged out of the hospital screaming and/or making a pithy yet wise remark, you’ve just been HAWTHORNED!) bought their spawn The Karate Kid to play with. Full disclosure: I have not seen all of The Karate Kid or even The Karate Kid Part II, though I have actually seen The Karate Kid III and much of The Next Karate Kid. So I do not hold the original in any particular esteem and I am not worried that a remake will “ruin” a junior-league remake of the first few Rocky movies. However: as much as I dig Jackie Chan, I don’t particularly feel like rewarding Will and Jada’s ambitious investment in Jaden Smith, Inc. No one expects the creation of a child star to be especially organic, but an insanely wealthy family training their offspring in the art of preternatural charm deployment and monetizing feels particularly crass. In fact, to the same degree that Smith Senior is inarguably ingratiating, I find his son weirdly off-putting. It seems like he was genetically engineered to fit the same amount of charm into a smaller package, like an ipod, only the experiment went wrong and gained dangerous self-awareness, and now we have this cocky little kid too conscious of his own charm potential. Just send your kid to space camp or something.
Winter’s Bone: I half-liked Down to the Bone, Debra Granik’s depressing previous feature, not least because it qualifies for a spot on my list of The Ten Best Upstate New York Movies. Winter’s Bone sounds a bit more eventful, following a girl hunting down her no-account drug-dealing father (shades of another upstate-misery movie, Frozen River, although apparently this new movie is set in the Ozarks), and I’m eager to see it. But something petty nags at me: if your last movie was called Down to the Bone, shouldn’t you labor to think of a title for your next movie that does not include the word “bone,” lest your audience suspect that maybe your sense of gritty desolation is perhaps more than a little calculated? Unless: you’re planning some kind of Desolate America Bone Trilogy. So as long as Granik gives us Straight Off the Bone around 2013, we should be good.