Friday, June 19, 2015

The one with the guy from that thing

I know, I know, I go like ten weeks* without blogging, then I post two days in a row, and it's all related to one late night multiplex excursion. So it goes.

(* = may be a slight exaggeration)

Anyway, if there's one thing you need to know about my relationship with Going To The Movies, as a socio-cultural thing, it's that I have a borderline obsessive need to get to the theater early. I like to have plenty of time to get tickets and snacks, I like to have plenty of time to pick out a good seat (ideally somewhere smack in the middle of the first of the stadium rows) and I like to watch the pre-show. I've mentioned before how much I appreciate the care and effort that goes into the Alamo's pre-show, but even The Twenty and First Look are enjoyable for their cheesy excesses. And I especially enjoy the previews. If you've ever wondered who the target audience was for those syndicated shows of nothing but movie trailers that used to (maybe still do?) air on weekend afternoons, like Coming Attractions, it was me.

So there we were on Wednesday night, watching the previews, and the vast majority of them were for movies I was already at least aware of. At least a couple I had already seen - Fantastic Four and Ant-Man - the last time I was at the theater, for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Another couple were for sequels and/or reboots - Sinister 2 and the new Vacation with Ed Helms as the adult Rusty - which means even if I hadn't heard anything specific about them their existence didn't impact me as news per se (Hollywood be recyclin'). But one stood out in particular because of the potent combination of being neither a sequel nor a reboot, being the first I had ever heard of the project in question, and also being so crazypants that it felt like something I might dream up while heavily narcotized and hanging out in my dork cave. This would be a joint apparently entitled The Last Witch Hunter.

Assuming that, like most modern trailers, this one effectively outlined the premise if not most of the plot, The Last Witch Hunter takes place in a world where witches are real, and evil, and one of the functions of the Catholic church has always been to fight them, functions which have coalesced in various super-secret orders. Witches went underground, everyone assumed they had been wiped out and the old orders faded, but of course the witches were only biding their time and are now going to unleash Armageddon (or something like that) and so one Loner With a Troubled Past Who Remembers the Old Ways must reclaim his legacy and save the world. So that's some ambitiously insane genre material right there. And the cast is stacked with ringers, too. Leslie Rose (World's Strongest Woman Ygritte) is in it, as is Michael Caine as an old priest and Elijah Wood as a young priest. Also for some reason former WWE European Champion Kurt Angle is in the mix, which in and of itself amuses me beyond reason. But the hero character, whose name is Kaulder (someday I may have to do a post about the mostly comics-driven heyday of giving every character kewl names with K's for C's and Z's for S's and Y's for I's) and who apparently gets to swing a flaming sword around, is portrayed by ...

VIN DIESEL, ladies and gentlemen.

And that's what really made an impression on me. Vin is having quite a moment, isn't he? I really thought he burned bright but faded fast back in the very early 00's. Usually there's no coming back from a forgettable misfire like The Pacifier. But now it's like hey, America fell in love with the Guardians of the Galaxy and he was the voice of Groot, and then Fast and Furious 7 came out and suddenly everyone was writing these seemingly straight-faced appraisals of the entire franchise and how it's basically a beloved modern cinematic treasure (I've never seen a single Fast and Furious movie, which is more not my thing/not enough hours in the day than outright snobbery, so I'm simultaneously having trouble wrapping my head around it all and seriously considering binge-watching all seven movies) and ... well, and now here we are, where apparently studios evaluate a crusaders-versus-witches original story (not based on a comic book or YA novel or video game or anything!) and try to figure out if they can sell it to the masses, possibly even turn it into a franchise, and the conclusion they come to is "Yes ... if we can get VIN DIESEL!" I'm actually pretty glad that trying to figure that stuff out is not my job, and I just get to sit back and enjoy the results, one way or the other.

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