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Animation videos: one from Finke, one from Thompson

You can’t say I’m not evenhanded when it comes to stealing interesting animated trailers and what not.

Right now, I’m borrowing La Finke’s “Hot Trailer” of Dreamworks’ “How to Train Your Dragon.” I honestly can’t tell from this or the earlier trailers how good the film will be, but I suspect the kids will eat it up as it looks to have the right combination of cool and cuteness to get a pretty good cross section of ages and genders. Dog movies — and this is a movie about a giant, flying, fire-breathing dog — will always work. The flying scenes should also be a hoot in 3-D. Still, I’d like to have seen them try this one in traditional animation, though it doesn’t look half bad.

And via Ms. Finke’s classy rival, Anne Thompson, below is a mash-up of “Avatar” and “Pocahontas.” As Ms. Thompson says, it’s not like the similarities haven’t been noticed before. Still, it’s interesting to see them in one place.

CFV 426 – Avatar/Pocahontas Mashup FINAL VERSION from Randy Szuch on Vimeo.

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Weekend box office: “Cop Out” and “The Crazies” may duke it out for #2 (updated)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Michelle Williams in As far as I can tell and certainly the way THR’s jolly Carl DiOrio sees it, “Shutter Island” is likely to enjoy a second weekend atop the nation’s box office. Earning some $41.1 million last weekend, it would take a much bigger than average drop for it to be within range of the two new major films debuting this week, but then anything is possible.

And so it’s a showdown for the second spot between an R-rated violent horror remake and an R-rated and fairly violent if wacky homage, of sorts, to eighties buddy cop films. On his weekly video, DiOrio spectulates that either or both could make “mid teen millions or a little bit better.”

The first of these I saw myself last night. As you can see in my review of the Bruce Willis-Tracy Morgan vehicle directed — but not written — by Kevin Smith, “Cop Out“, I found the movie more bad than good. At the same time, I couldn’t deny that, as bad action comedies go, it was kind of fun. I have a feeling that audiences might be a bit less particular than me and since the movie delivers reasonably on laughs and moves along at a nice enough clip (Smith edited it himself), they may be more satisfied than not.┬á Still, my overall negative reaction puts me in line with the critical majority, with “Cop Out” netting a rather dismal 13% “fresh” reading on the Tomatometer, not that this kind of comedy has much to fear from critics.

Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan in

Interestingly enough for a horror remake, “The Crazies,” based on a relatively little seen personal favorite of zombie-master George A. Romero, is getting what are at least numerically better reviews on the Tomatometer than the original film. The new version, directed by Breck Eisner, previously something of a critical punching bag with “Saharaand “A Sound of Thunder,” is getting by far the best reviews of his career with a healthy 74% “fresh” rating. [UPDATE: I failed to double check this. Turns out long-time directorial hack Peter Hyams helmed the failed Ray Bradbury adaptation, so Breck Eisner doesn't get the blame for that one since he was only an executive producer on the film. According to his IMDb page, Eisner was also a production assistant on "Tango & Cash" and I guess he shouldn't get the blame for that, either.]

The original version only gets 60%, though a number like that can be misleading in that it doesn’t really measure a critic’s level of passion. Also, most of the top venues seem to have skipped reviewing it at all, so the results could be skewed here by reviews from horror-friendly venues. In any case, horror films are really not critically driven, but stronger-than-average reaction could still bring a few extra bodies into the theaters from folks who enjoyed Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s somewhat similarly-themed, critically praised disease/zombie hit, “28 Days Later.”

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American Idol: semi-shocking elimination

Well, I said this morning that I thought Jermaine should be the first guy getting booted off “American Idol” but that nothing would surprise me. Still, I was kind of surprised by a couple of the results tonight. Here is how it all went down…..

First, the awful group number….a jazzy, horrible song I think called “American Boy.” Blech. Most of the contestants looked bored, lost, or indifferent. Yes, it was epic bad.

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Here’s the problem with “Law Abiding Citizen”

**SPOILER ALERT**

Well, after reading David Medsker’s review over at Bullz-Eye, maybe there’s more than one problem with “Law Abiding Citizen,” but I rather enjoyed it, save for one thing.

Can a good thriller still be good if it’s based on a faulty premise? In the opening scene — and again, I feel compelled to write **SPOILER ALERT** here — Gerard Butler’s character (Clyde) witnesses the rape and murder of his wife and daughter. There were to men who invaded his home — Clarence Darby (who actually committed the rape and murders) and his accomplice Rupert Ames.

Fast forward to the deal that Jamie Foxx’s character (Nick) struck, and I’m confused. If he has Clyde as an eyewitness, why would he make a deal with Darby when he was the one who actually committed the most heinous acts that night? If Darby was prepared to cooperate but Ames was not, why not go to Ames (knowing that he’s the “less guilty” of the two) and say, “Look, if you don’t testify against Darby, he’s going to testify against you, and you’re going to get the death penalty. We know Darby is a bigger sh*t than you, so why not do everyone a favor and testify against him?” Is there anyone that wouldn’t take that deal?

This, coupled with Nick’s decision to shake hands with Darby at the ensuing press conference (knowing full well that he’s a rapist and murderer) sends Clyde off the deep end. The entire movie is based on this faulty premise.

On a side note, is it just me or does Butler have one of the worst American accents of all time? Between “Law Abiding Citizen” and “The Ugly Truth,” the guy just seems to have a tough time swallowing his Scottish accent. I like him as an actor, but I find his American accent incredibly distracting.

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American Idol: can we just start over?

Okay, folks. After seeing the crop of 24 semi-finalists in Season 9 of “American Idol,” I’m convinced that the judges are high. They call this the best group of singers ever? Um, far from it…I think it may be the worst crop in years, possibly the worst since the first couple of seasons. Every single contestant this year has at least one flaw, and most of them have multiple flaws and glaring weaknesses. Anyway, the guys sang last night, and honestly, most of them were pretty awful. But the judges selected a few to prop up even if they were just okay…maybe it’s the way the field is, but this is not good. Here is the recap of last night’s dude-fest:

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