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Winter movie extravaganza

James Dechant | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tomorrow is Halloween, and that means the holiday season lurks right around the corner. Yes, it used to start with Thanksgiving, but the extra twenty-odd days of November free up a lot of time for marketing. And what could use the hype more than relentlessly ground out, tired Hollywood action films?

In order to facilitate everyone’s enjoyment of the impending movie rush, I’ve compiled this little list of promising features. Here’s a taste of four upcoming visual masterpieces – three action films and a comedy – that will surely whet your appetite for the approaching holiday cinema season. I encourage everyone to look up the trailers for these movies on YouTube or their official sites. Whenever a two-hour film is boiled down to two minutes chock full of cheesy one-liners, overdone special effects and melodramatic music, even the best description cannot match up.

“Beowulf”

This one comes straight out of the “movies that should never be made unless perhaps the BBC does one of those television miniseries” department. Picture this: Take the most famous Old English epic poem ever, watch “300” a few times, and combine the two. Add Angelina Jolie’s lips, give her a tail thing and throw in Anthony Hopkins sporting a blatant rip-off of Gimli’s dwarf costume. Finally, center the movie around the epic line “I am Beowulf!” screamed by a shirtless hairy guy.

The film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, is behind films like the “Back to the Future” trilogy and “Forrest Gump.” I love both of those. Unfortunately, he is now about to ruin one of the most ancient and hallowed pieces of English literature. Congratulations, Bob.

“National Treasure: Book of Secrets”

Nicholas Cage plays himself, unlocking more American secrets. But hasn’t he had this same role before? You know, in movies like “Gone in 60 Seconds,” “The Rock,” “Con Air,” “Face/Off,” “8MM,” “Matchstick Men,” “Lord of War,” “Ghost Rider,” “Next,” the first “National Treasure…” need I go on?

Well, in this one, Cage once again finds himself on the wrong side of the law. He plans to kidnap the President of the United States of America in order to steal the “President’s Book of Secrets.” That book contains information on the JFK assassination, the Watergate tapes, and Area 51, or so Harvey Keitel tells us. Apparently Nicholas Cage’s grandfather was involved in the assassination of Lincoln. He discovers this when Ed Harris – playing the same CIA dude he plays in every movie – reveals to him missing pages from the diary of John Wilkes Booth. Nick Cage sets out on a quest to unlock the mystery “the world isn’t ready to believe.” No, I don’t think we are ready. Please, please not yet.

Director Jerry Bruckheimer should probably not be allowed near a camera, nor should anyone else remotely involved in the creation of “Bad Boys II,” “Coyote Ugly” or this film.

“Fred Claus”

Paul Giamatti, Vince Vaughn. The first plays Santa Claus, the second plays Santa’s brother Fred.

I was willing to give this one a chance because I like Paul Giamatti, and I can stand Vince Vaughn. I was ready to ignore certain factors that would seem to foredoom this movie – how almost every Christmas movie besides “A Christmas Story” bombs, the fact that the plot centers around Santa Claus’s brother, etc.

Then I saw the trailer. Then I realized that the movie relies on midget humor (dancing elves, ninja elves, disgruntled elves), on the slapstick interactions between Vince Vaughn and Santa’s helpers as Fred visits the North Pole. Then I realized that, in a better world, this movie would never have advanced beyond the pitch to producers, and hopefully not beyond the idea in some money-hungry writer’s head.

“Rambo”

“In the heart of the jungle, blood will flow, and a warrior will come.”

What? They already made “Rambo” back in the 80s, didn’t they?

Yes. But not like this.

In the latest story about this action…hero…a group of Christian missionaries wants to rent out Rambo’s boat and services so he can transport them upriver into Burma. Along the way, many of them are captured and murdered, and Rambo gets the chance to start killing things. He takes full advantage of this new opportunity to shoot machine guns, swing machetes and kill a bunch of Burmese soldiers.

Sylvester Stallone obviously enjoys his chance to jump back into the complex psychological persona of Rambo. You can appreciate his skill in the performing arts when he brings his actor’s mind to bear on such poignant lines as “Live for nothing…or die…for something.” Eloquent. Eloquent and profound.

Make sure you check out the uncensored trailer, in which Rambo kills at least twelve people (by my count), including one soldier whose throat Rambo literally rips out with his bare hands.

Oh, and there are snakes. Cobra snakes.

I can’t wait for January.

James Dechant is a senior English and theology major. Questions, comments and rude remarks can be sent to him at jdechant@nd.eduThe views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.