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February Movie Preview Review: 'Strange Wilderness,' 'Fool's Gold' & More

February 1st, 2008 9:41am EST
Fool's GoldI'm a fan of previews. There are few joys in this world to 20 minutes of sitting back, relaxing, and forgetting what movie you actually came in to see.

Previews have become something of a mini movie festival, featuring loud music and explosions, two-second snippets of sex, and great one-liners. Most importantly, this festival is instrumental in deciding what movies most people will see for the next month.

Here's the million dollar question: why isn't anyone reviewing these previews? Look no further, here is your one-stop shop for preview reviews. This month we're looking at Strange Wilderness, Fool's Gold, Jumper, and Vantage Point.

First there's "Strange Wilderness," which opens up this weekend. This preview came out of nowhere - no teasers for months or over-played airtime. In fact, you're probably more likely to have seen the trailer on TV rather than on the big screen. It's got some old favorites in it, including Steve Zahn, from "That Thing You Do" and "Saving Silverman" fame. It also features up-and-coming "Superbad" star Jonah Hill and Mr. Mac, Justin Long.

Strange Wilderness

It's written and directed by two former SNL writers, Peter Gualke and Fred Wolf, the later of whom is responsible for some classics such as "Dirty Work" and "Black Sheep." Unfortunately, Wolf is also responsible for riding the David Spade train out of the nineties and into disaster with "Dicki Roberts" and "Joe Dirt."

"Strange Wilderness" is about a couple of nature show documentarians going after big foot to boost ratings. The plot and producing team (Happy Madison Production, which hasn't produced a good movie since their namesake) both leave something to be desired, but the cast is exciting. With the preview featuring a couple of funny moments, including Jonah Hill sporting a thong, interest gets sparked. What puts it over the edge is a 20-second clip where they continue to give goofy laughing sounds to a stupid looking shark. Ok, I admit it, it's annoying - but at the same time, it's exactly what I would be doing sitting around with a bunch of my friends. In the end, if you can picture yourself doing that, give it a go. Otherwise, wait for raves or video.

Up next, on February 8, comes "Fool's Gold," or as it appears in the preview, the sequel to "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days." Of course, this is better known as Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson's "The only thing I love more than you is myself," part two. And why not? It worked relatively well in their first co-operative venture; why wouldn't a story about how a disastrous couple goes treasure hunting as a form of marriage therapy be successful? Throw in a funny side character and some good action scenes and maybe it'll be a fun ride. Unfortunately, the preview doesn't seem to offer much more than ridiculous stunts and some sex scenes thrown together with a bunch of one-liners, such as, "I take it you've met." I'm willing to bet somebody gets hit in the balls in this movie as well. It's got that kind of classy appeal.

Fool's Gold

All this being said, its from Andy Tennant, the director of "Fools Rush In" and "Hitch," two movies that are much like their main characters: silly but good for a quick hump. Both also make good date movies, especially the former, and "Fools Gold" should make no exception. It's not an accident it opens the week before Valentines Day, as it will be a good compromise movie for couples looking for a little of his and hers flavor and some inspiration for how to end the evening.

It will be competing with "Jumper," which opens on V-Day itself. This one wins for most creative plot of the month. It's about a bunch of adolescents with the ability to teleport, and they're being hunted by a futuristic-nunchuk wielding Samuel L. Jackson. Hayden Christiansen leads the cast and appears to be reviving his role from "Star Wars" and "Awake" by playing the really intense hero. His trademark is, instead of yelling, a kind of loud and gravely talking - sort of like a puppy trying to pretend he can bark louder than he can. Mostly, he spends his time sweating and whining to everyone. This, of course, is all in the preview.

Jumper

Again, if you're looking for snappy one liners, high-budget green screen effects, and Samuel L. kicking a-- and taking names, then "Jumper" should be right up your alley. Guys will like the adventure, and girls will like looking at the former Anakin Skywalker. The story should be solid, and as with most action adventure sci-fi flicks, the laurels of this film will rest upon the strength of it's ending.

"Vantage Point" wraps up the month (Feb. 22), and it boasts by far the biggest star-studded cast. Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Dennis Quaid, and Sigourney Weaver lead the way. Pete Travis, the director, is making his big-screen debut, so it's hard to know what you're going to get - though the title is pretty self-explanatory. The attempted assassination of the President of the United States is told from five different views.

Vantage Point

Whitaker and Weaver will probably give solid performances, so there's little concern there. Matthew Fox, while very watchable and resurgent in recent years of his career with "Lost," has yet to show that in tense moments he can do much more than cry, yell while crying, or cry while gritting his teeth. Dennis Quaid... well... Dennis Quaid is Denis Quaid. You know exactly what you're getting - action, corn, and some delightful over-acting. The preview shows a lovely moment where Quaid manages to see two hands exchange something while watching a security camera with a tight close-up on said hands. Very impressive detective work.

The main concern with "Vantage Point" is that it looks like it may just be over the top in every facet. Can a rookie director control so many big names? Will the complicated plot make any sense, or, like Fox's "Lost," will it just keep the audience in the dark long enough to get away with having nothing to say? The previews often lie, so they are hard to trust - but if this one is any indication, "Vantage Point" is in danger of being over-produced, over-hyped, and over before it begins.

Story by James Fagan
Starpulse.com contributing writer


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