DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.
X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer
BK: Including the Wolverine movies, this will be the 8th (!!?!) movie in the X-Men franchise and the quality of the movies has varied from bad (X-Men 3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) to solid (X-Men, X-Men: First Class) to great (X2). They handed the reigns of the franchise back to director Bryan Singer who, despite the negative reputation of his Superman effort (Superman Returns is criminally underrated), has shown a remarkably deft touch with a potentially overcrowded and over complicated series.
This trailer doesn’t give me the same goosebumps I got from the original X-Men or Spiderman or Star Wars trailers, but I wasn’t disappointed either (the way I was seeing Batman vs. Superman). The cast for this series keeps getting better, and the addition of my BOY Oscar Isaac is the frosting on the Fassbender/McAvoy/Lawrence cake. I’m glad to see Rose Byrne getting more screen time as Moira MacTaggert, and the addition of Sophie Turner as Jean Grey has been widely praised too. I’m in on all of it, even little Tye Sheridan (the kid from Mud) showing up as young Cyclops! I see you, Tye.
I’d pay the price of a ticket just to see Isaac, Fassbender and McAvoy hanging out together, so I’m definitely down to see them shoot lasers and knives and telepathy and magnets at each other for 2 hours. May can’t get here soon enough.
syvo: I still don’t get how that’s Oscar Isaac. I’m really not sure I even believe it’s really him at this point.
But anyway, I loved this trailer! Since the soft reboot X-Men: First Class, this franchise has been the strongest and most creative of the warring Big Spandex efforts among Fox, Marvel Studios, Sony, and Warner Brothers. Undoubtedly the most complex quarter of the Marvel comics universe, I’ve been happy to see these movies resist the urge to dumb everything down and thin the mutant ranks to appeal to non-geek audiences. Rather, they’ve tackled head-on some of the most iconic and headache-incuding storylines that the property has to offer (House of M next? Messiah Complex?!?). At the same time, they still deliver smartly plotted, visually inventive, fun movies with hands-down the best ensemble cast since, well, pretty much anything ever.
I couldn’t be more happy to see Tye Sheridan come in as Cyclops. My favorite young actor playing my favorite member of the X-Men. I recently saw him in the unbearably dreary, intermittently brilliant Entertainment, an indie movie about comics (the other kind of comics). Sheridan was great, but somewhat underutilized. Here, I couldn’t ask for a better Scott Summers.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny Trailer
syvo: Is it just me, or was this super disappointing? It’s been since the theaters that I saw the original, but I remember loving it because it was an essentially interesting and beautiful movie. The gravity-defying stuff was all just an elegant flourish. Here, I feel like we’re getting just another crappy martial arts action movie. I’m sure this trailer will do much to energize Netflix’s core audience (i.e. stoners and bored people), but not me. The Netflix logo in the bottom-right makes the trailer look terribly low-rent, as does the ill-fitting poor-man’s Imogen Heap robo-tune in the backgroud. And no Chow Yun Fat? C’mon.
Julia: I never saw the first one so I wasn’t aware of a popular demand and/or narrative opportunity for a sequel. Everyone else was pretty enthusiastic about the original and Netflix seems to know what they’re doing with all their original content, so I guess I would be into this, say, if I was at someone else’s house who wanted to watch it. When researching this I googled “Slouching Tiger,” thus accidentally inventing a solid idea for a parody version.
BK: As a former owner of a Sword of Destiny myself, I’m 100% IN on this movie. Flying kung-fu? Absolutely! And the fact that I won’t have to buy a ticket to see it instantly lowers the stakes. If it’s good, that’s basically just gravy.
Sleigh Bells – “Champions of Unrestricted Beauty”
syvo: Noise-pop hipster duo Sleigh Bells is currently at work on their follow-up to 2013’s poorly received (but not bad) Bitter Rivals. I’m generally a Sleigh Bells supporter, and I won’t apoligize for that. I’m not sure what it is, but something about this band makes a certain elitist element roll their eyes. But, those people are missing out. I like this new song, even though it’s not as solidly catchy as some of their previous work. They’re not what they used to be, but they’re still at the forefront of creating fun, interesting pop music.
Julia: Last year while I was in a seminar my phone somehow self-activated its voice control and started blasting Sleigh Bells OUT LOUD. The Chair of my department, who was sitting next to me, laughed and mocked “nice ringtone” while I frantically tried to make it stop. Complete mortification. Though on the bright side at least “A/B Machines” has finally replaced “It Makes me Ill” by *NSYNC as the first alphabetical song in my iTunes. Anecdote aside, this new single is interesting. I like the melody and it fits nicely within the alt-pop/pop-alt zone that I love so much. But with the intentional shift away from their “wall of guitars and fuzziness” sound that made the first album so exciting, it feels like something is missing. I will suspend further judgement, I’ve been proven wrong before (Grimes, Chvrches, Rihanna, etc).
BK: I was in on this song as soon as I saw the title (Champion of Unrestricted Beauty? Totally dope), but I don’t think the track itself lives up to the billing of the extensive title. It sounds like they are going for a poppier sound, but in going for a more mainstream audience they’ve lost some of the charm from their earlier stuff. It might be an outlier (singles are usually way different than the album) but this doesn’t have me psyched quite yet.
The Nice Guys Trailer
BK: Gosling and Crowe, together at last!
This trailer makes me giddy – much like the Shane Black classic Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, everyone in this 3 minute clip looks like they are having a blast. Buddy movies will never get old, and this has the potential to be one of the greats.
I like the idea of Gosling as the bungling goofball too – the soul patch alone is worth the price of a ticket. And finally Russell Crowe is back to fightin’ around the world! Give this movie the Oscar now.
syvo: Wow, this looks awesome. I love Shane Black, or at least the idea of Shane Black, insofar as he’s the original bro that made screenwriting, in and of itself, a cool thing to be, as distinct from more traditional forms of Hollywood celebrity like acting and directing. With his recent forays into directing, the “pure” screenwriter remains an elusive species (even Charlie Kaufman directed a feature in 2008). But this looks like it’ll be a vulgar, witty crime flick, and it comes just as Tarantino might be getting stale and allegorical in his old age.
Chairlift – “Romeo” Video
Julia: Horrey, new Chairlift album soon! I listened to Something exclusively for probably two months straight when it came out. Hey, Caroline Polachek is a weird lady! She’s always half-yodeling, pretty sure she makes up a lot of words, and she wears clothes that have a “workout-chic” vibe with asymmetric cut-outs everywhere. As if it could get better than that, she also covers AND writes songs for Beyonce.
syvo: This is pretty cool. I love her jacket. I definitely loved Chairlift’s old “Amanaemonesia” video, where she’s doing those dope interpretive dances in a silver leotard. Also, their early single “Bruises” is generally undeniable. But I can’t say I really got too into them beyond that, though. Their last album didn’t quite do it for me. There’s something a little annoying about this duo, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Nonetheless, I’ll be checking out this new album when it drops.
BK: Finally someone bringing back the bowl-cut! She reminds me of Delores O’Riordan (from The Cranberries) and that is basically the highest praise I can possibly give.The song is catchy and the video is fun. I haven’t listened to their other stuff much, but this is just the motivation I need.
DOPE Throwback – Limp Bizkit – “Re-Arranged”
syvo: I have a radical, mind-altering, reality-warping thought experiment to propose. What if, together, as a species, we decided to retroactively designate Limp Bizkit as “actually not that bad” and “kinda decent if you think about it”? This is an absolutely outrageous idea, I know. I should be banned for the internet for even thinking about such a culturally offensive proposal. But, as Durst humbly asks his listeners in this song, “just think about it…”
BK: As the not-so-proud owner of both Significant Other and Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavored Water, I support this hair-brained theory of yours. Remember ‘N 2gether Now’ with Method Man? Remember Wes Borland’s weird eyes? Those were good times. So go ahead, wear your red fitted hat backwards! It’s the weekend, after all.