Much like in 2008, Bad Robot has surprised us with the release of a Cloverfield film, and this time, both the release and the finished product are decidedly more impressive. 10 Cloverfield Lane ditches the POV camera gimmick that seemed so popular a few years ago, and instead goes a more traditional blocking and stage route. As for the release, it was hard enough to sneak a film through production in 2008, and that was before there were smartphones everywhere. The internet has made filming in secrecy much more difficult, so the fact that no one knew about this until the Super Bowl ad aired, is a feat onto itself.
Actually Amazon has jumped into the deep end and are hoping one of their 14 pilots is able to learn how to swim, quickly. Amazon released the six children’s pilots and eight comedy pilots to all Prime customers. I’ve said it before, it’s hard not to be excited knowing that we are able to watch this potential shift in how the country and world consumes scripted media. Through venues not even conceived of in our parent’s time, we are able to connect with a content producer and they with the viewer in ways unimaginable to a generation removed. For a TV geek, this is an awesome time.
Due to my excitement, I set out to watch all the Amazon pilots. That plan quickly faltered as I started with a child’s cartoon that was not one that adult’s would find much enjoyment in at all, so the children’s pilots are out. On to the comedies! I went in without reading anything on these shows (outside of Zombieland) beforehand. I didn’t look up actors, or writers, and some of them I didn’t even know the title until I went to watch it. Enough talk, let’s see how everyone did.
I can not tell you how much I wanted this to be like the Channel 4’s The IT Crowd. I had no real reason for thinking it would be outside of Betas being about computer folk and of course the 8-bit title sequence, but still, I was holding out hope. It isn’t. Betas is more like a smaller scale, somewhat cruder version of The Social Network. Instead of Mark Zuckerberg trying to get Facebook off the ground, you’ve got two guys, Trey (Troy Dinicol) and Nash (Karan Soni who was in one of Grizzly Bomb’s Top Movies of 2012, Safety Not Guaranteed) who are out to find funding for their new social networking app. They are surrounded by an office full of the socially awkward and the “should probably be in jail for some sex crime”.
They head out for a “meeting” with a potential investor and lo and behold…
Ed Begley Jr.! I will watch almost anything with Begley in it so this made the pilot immediately gain points in my mind. While it started a bit slow for me, by the end I was invested and was wanting to see more so I hope they are able to get this one to series.
I’ll admit that I totally wrote this one off before I watched it. Just the premise of two mall workers who in their spare time are “humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural” wasn’t doing it for me. Then I watched it and almost immediately changed my mind.
I think Supanatural might be the best example of how Amazon’s method of farming pilots might be really beneficial to the writing world. There was a lot of uproar when the fledgling studio announced their feature script, crowd-sourcing plan and it (rightfully so) had many screenwriters leery of the prospect. However with the comedy pilots, it seems as if it’s opened a door to writers and actors who don’t have a long resume to get a chance to get on a project with promise. While Kristen Shaal voices two of the characters and has quite a bit of experience going into Supanatural, Jameeliah Garrett who voices Lucretia? This is her first credit. Lily Sparks who is a writer on the show and voices Hezbah? First writing credit and only fourth actor credit. While this is certainly not the first time relative “unknowns” have lead roles, it happens infrequently enough that it makes you notice. As for Supanatural, definitely check it out, especially if you are a fan of shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Browsers is about a group of four interns as they start their new career at a Huffington Post style site called Gush. They are content farmers, hence the name.
Words can not express how badly I wanted this to be good. Words can also not express how not good it was. I’d love for it to continue because I am a musical theater nerd and after the crap-fest Glee has become and the crash and burn that Smash was, it’d be nice to have a musical show to watch that didn’t suck. Sadly, unless the quality of the songs (granted it would be difficult for anyone to write a song about Twitter) grows by leaps and bounds, not even Bebe Neuwirth can save this and that is saying a lot because that woman is a goddess.
One of the top two of the eight, for sure. Alpha House is a political show with a different slant. See these three Congressmen all live in a house together and are looking for a fourth roommate. Of course they work together as well, all being Republicans trying to figure out what actions to take to best get re-elected, serve their constituents, further their careers… you know, Congress stuff. It was very good which isn’t surprising given the caliber of actors involved and being written by Gary Trudeau who writes the comic strip, Doonesbury, it’s certain to have smart and snappy dialogue.
Alpha House was one that had a lot of buzz going for it before they aired, mainly due to Bill Murray’s involvement. Let me just say, his appearance is brief but hysterical. It might have been my favorite moment of the pilot. That’s not to say the rest of the cast isn’t good, because they are, it was just that you don’t expect to see Bill Murray crying while brushing his teeth and shaving.
Going into Dark Minions, I thought it would be pretty decent. I’m a fan of stop-motion animation and even though the entire pilot wasn’t fully done in the stop-motion, I can understand that. It takes time and money to get it done and when you are working on a pilot that you don’t know will become a series, it’s probably not a good idea to spend a ton up front.
I think that was a wise decision because it just wasn’t that good. It wasn’t as bad as Browsers, but it wasn’t anything that I’d watch again. Just very middle of the road and not very innovative. I could say something like “that’s no big surprise given that it’s from writer’s of Big Bang Theory” but that would be mean.
Dear hopeful TV writers everywhere, take this as a lesson: If you want to create a series from a movie that is a cult classic, it needs to be as good, if not better than the movie.
Zombieland: The Series did not follow this advice. When the best part of the pilot is the two minutes leading up to the title screen and the best characters have nothing to do with the rest of the story? This is not a good thing. By the time we reached the halfway point I was already over it. There’s only so many times you can repeat the same gag and have it be funny or entertaining. Perhaps the best person to capture my feelings on this one was this Amazon reviewer.
[quote]Once you get Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee, everyone else is just a cheap knock-off.
This guy is more like Talledega. –Mickey Mills, Amazon reviewer[/quote]
Thank you Mickey.
Onion News Empire is not creator Will Graham’s first go round with a TV series based on the popular faux news site. This time however, instead of a news broadcast, he’s fashioned a show that is sort of an homage to Aaron Sorkin, even going so far as having one character ask another if he can “walk and talk”.
The cast in Onion News Empire is quite good with Jeffrey Tambor playing the egotistical anchor, Chris Masterson the wide-eyed cub reporter, William Sadler is the grizzled news chief, and 30 Rock‘s Cheyenne Jackson is the up and coming anchor looking to dethrone Tambor. When you look at that group, it’s hard to believe they’d pull off anything less than great yet somehow they did. Much like Zombieland, I have a hard time seeing the “hook” of Onion News Empire lasting very long as there is a finite period of time that the audience is going to continue to say “oh yea, this is a satirical spin off a news story” and find it entertaining. Yes The Onion as a site is hugely successful and wildly popular, I don’t think the same can be said for Onion News Network.
By far the best of all eight pilots is from the Denver based comedy trio of Adam Cayton-Holland, Andrew Orvedahl and Ben Roy. They play three high school teachers who really have no business being teachers. With a comedy style much like that found on shows like Workaholics and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the trio makes being a really awful teacher extremely entertaining.
As great as the three guys are, I have to say Rory Scovel as the hippie principal is easily my favorite character. Something about the hair and the cardigans along with the green tea, I’m a fan.
If you happen to watch Those Who Can’t and need more of these guys in your life, then head to YouTube and check out their webseries, The Grawlix.
So there you have it – a look at all eight Amazon comedy pilots. The really cool thing that Amazon is doing, is much like everything else on their site, you can review the pilots and they are actually encouraging people to do so. They are saying that they will take these ratings into account but I’m a cynic and have a hard time believing that, but good on them if they do follow through with that.
All that’s left for you to do is head on over to Amazon, sign into your Prime account (if you don’t have one, you should, especially if you order anything with any regularity from them) and check out the shows. Then you can come back and tell me how right I am in my assessment or where I can stick it. Enjoy!
The strongest part of the new Hangover III trailer is how heavily it focuses on Zach Galifianakis. I am pleasantly surprised with some of the new reveals. It would be too easy to create the same film for the third time. I am not saying this couldn’t still be the case, but I will admit that the third installment of the franchise has the opportunity to do something different. That is refreshing.
Even more entertaining, Part III seems to rely heavily on the Alan character. Considering the comedic genius of Zach Galifianakis, this will pay off in spades. Following the death of Alan’s dad, we can see that he has gone off the deep end. He no longer takes his prescribed medication, and his once tolerable antics are out of control. I loved the Tab commercial while burying his father. What can I say? Sex sells.
So it’s agreed that the Wolfpack needs to come together, and take Alan to a center where he can get the help that he needs. Then, all of a sudden, John Goodman shows up and demands they bring Mr. Chow to him. He keeps Doug as collateral, of course. The journey spans across several exotic locations so the boys can locate, kidnap, and return the elusive Chow. I wasn’t too excited at first, but I can honestly say that I am now. This new trailer has opened my eyes to the comedy trilogy.
This is Grizzly Bomb’s Trailer Round for April the 12th in the year of 2013…
[tabgroup][tab title=”The Hangover Part III”]
When you saw the first Hangover film, did you think it would make a great trilogy? Someone did. So here it is. The triumphant conclusion to the story that doesn’t appear to have an ending. You know it will be good when it returns back to where the first film has already been. Here we go again, again.
The Wolf Pack returns to Vegas on what appears to be a mission fulfilling the wishes of deceased father in law Sid Garner. Or, at least, that is what I believe the plot to be. The only thing confirmed from the trailer is that giraffe dismemberment is hilarious.
Director: Todd Phillips
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Melissa McCarthy, Zach Galifianakis, Jamie Chung, Justin Bartha, John Goodman, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, and Ed Helms.
Release Date: May 24, 2013
[/tab][tab title=”Welcome To The Punch”]
Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) is an ex-criminal. But like father, like son. Go figure? His son ends up in the hospital after a heist gone wrong, and Sternwood has to get him out. So this should be the perfect opportunity for Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) to put Sternwood behind bars for good. Wait, no. That would be too simple.They grab my interest when they attach the name Ridley Scott in the opening sequence. Does this mean it will be a great film? No. It just means they have my attention.
Director: Eran Creevy
Stars: James McAvoy, David Morrissey, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Flemyng, Peter Mullan, Johnny Harris, and Elyes Gabel.
Release Date: March 15, 2013 UK
[/tab][tab title=”Somebody Up There Likes Me”]
This seems to be one of those dry indie comedies that I find difficult to relate to. Though it is considered a comedy, it has evident dark tones. That being the case, I wouldn’t expect our presented “protagonist” to advance or become any better by the films end. Therefore, with no relatable characters, I would fail to have my usual cathartic experience. This is often the case with dark comedies.
Why should you see it? Well, heck. It’s got Ron Swanson in it, now doesn’t it? Not really, but Nick Offerman is in his typical form which I am sure is quite entertaining. The more screen time he gets, the better this movie will be.
Director: Bob Byington
Stars: Nick Offerman, Keith Poulson, Jess Weixler, Stephanie Hunt, Marshall Bell, Kate Lyn Sheil, and Kevin Corrigan.
Release Date: March 8, 2013
[/tab][tab title=”Stuck In Love”]
This seems like an endearing little piece with a large cast that I very much enjoy. The trailer shows what appears to be a great representation of modern love in a divorced society. Selfishness motivates most of our decisions, and because of it, we let things go that we shouldn’t, and we give up on things that deserve our attention.Sometimes, it’s tragic how dependable we can be on other human beings. Love is the overpowering emotion that convinces us many times that the unreasonable is reasonable. I know this description seems complex, but it is all invoked from this trailer. So it seems like a pretty interesting movie.
Director: Josh Boone
Stars: Logan Lerman, Lily Collins, Jennifer Connelly, Kristen Bell, Stephen King, Greg Kinnear, Liana Liberato, Nat Wolff, Spencer Breslin, and Patrick Schwarzenegger.
Release Date: June 14, 2013
[/tab][tab title=”White House Down”]
I feel like this movie will succeed. Hear me out. Everyone was a bit disappointed with the flat, explosion friendly Die Hard 5. They felt a little bit better when Olympus Has Fallen came out. They felt that their Die Hard void had been filled. So people will enter into the summer movie madness remembering that they enjoyed a film where the White House was under attack from foreign invaders.
So enter White House Down. It is very Red Dawn ish. Which, I love. It cannot be determined if the invaders are foreign or domestic, but judging upon the Lincoln quote, probably domestic. It’s like Red Dawn meets Die Hard 4.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Jason Clarke, Joey King, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Rachelle Lefevre, and Jimmi Simpson.
Enter The Campaign: Cam Brady, a strange mixture of both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton is a congressman running for another term, this time completely unopposed. That is until political nobody Marty Huggins enters the race at the behest of his retired, politician father (Brian Cox) and his former campaign contributors. (Both played by a terribly underutilized Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow.) As shown throughout the trailer for this political satire, a vicious match of mud slinging ensues which honestly just gets tired by about the middle of the movie.
The Campaign suffers from two things: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis exhibiting their same old schtick, and the majority of the laughs being shown in the trailer I mentioned above. I’m not saying that there weren’t funny parts in the movie, but they were so few and far between that I had trouble not checking the time on my cell phone, and that‘s knowing that other moviegoers hate lit cell phone screens in the theater. I almost felt like people in the theater were cautiously laughing at certain scenes just so it wouldn’t make the movie seem so terrible.
A movie with a comedic cast of this caliber should have had me throwing up from laughter. Ferrell and Galifianakis should make that a guarantee, but when their shenanigans aren’t enough shouldn’t Jason Sudekis, Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow somehow be able to pull us though? Shockingly enough, extra laughs were secured with me by Dylan McDermott who stole the scene every time he appeared on-screen. His dochebaggery as the smooth, relentless campaign manager to Marty Huggins was a welcome addition to the movie from an actor I had no idea could make me laugh the few times I did. Hopefully he’s in a few more roles like this in the coming years. He could be the next Channing Tatum in terms of how I went from absolutely hating C-Tates to actually liking him after 21 Jump Street. But that still doesn’t mean I went and saw Magic Mike.
Overall this movie serves a way to point out how corrupt politics is and how stupid a select two portions of the American population are ideologically. The only thing is, I don’t think that the audience needed a movie to tell us all of these things. And if the studio felt like they needed to then they could have done it in a funnier way. I had a much better time and more laughs watching a walking, talking, pot smoking teddy bear this year for God’s sake! 2 out of 5 Grizzlies is what I say! That dog WON’T hunt Monseigneur!