January 23, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 63  

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Trailer talk: Ferrell and Dracula invade big screen

By Brent Carpenter
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photos
GET READY TO LAUGH... AND SCREAM... AND LAUGH. Van Helsing and Anchorman will be battling it out in the box office.

The post-holiday period at the movies is generally the slowest of the year. It’s a time when studios tend to either rid the shelves of their long-delayed financial gambles (like the upcoming Mindhunters and Against the Ropes) or open smaller-scale films with the potential of finding broader audiences (Barbershop 2).

Judging by the dull slate of upcomng releases, there’s no better time to look forward to early spring, when things should once again pick up.

A few movie trailers have recently emerged for some of the new year’s most buzzed-about blockbuster hopefuls — one ’70s-era comedy and one mega-budget period action movie — and here they’ve been rated according to the degree by which they’ll likely leave their would-be viewer wanting more.

The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Director: Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate

Frank the Tank is tearing it up.
Elf is set to earn around US$180 million, making it one of the top-grossing films of the year. That, along with Old School, has placed Ferrell on a roll that he looks to continue with the story of fictional 1970s-era newsman Ron Burgundy.

The trailer for the comedy sets the movie “in a simpler time,” when news anchors chain smoked, pounded liquor back during commercial breaks and made blunt passes at women with lines like “love that fanny!”

From the looks of it, Ferrell plays Burgundy with a self-important swagger, addressing himself in the third person and ditching his scotch-on-the-rocks only when doing cannonballs in burgundy-colored underwear.

You have to admit, an unwitting anchor — especially one that looks like Ferrell with a ’70s haircut — singing on air about his love for scotch seems harmless, but today would lead to a public lynching for corrupting the children. Within the context of the film, it just adds to Burgundy’s strange mystique.

The movie will have fun taking jabs at celebrity culture, and it looks as if Ferrell will nail the role with his hilariously appealing stupidity. In one shot, Burgundy admires a billboard bearing his face and the phrase, “If Ron Burgundy Says it ... it’s the Truth!”

Applegate is absent throughout the entire trailer, save a couple of quick-cuts, as the film is clearly being marketed towards Ferrell’s rapidly growing fan base.

After a great trailer, the next step is to see whether or not the movie can live up to the hype. See for yourself when it finally opens Friday, July 9.

Van Helsing
Director: Stephen Sommers
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale

Wolverine owns your ass.

Two bubbly romantic brainfarts (Someone Like You and Kate and Leopold) notwithstanding, Jackman has helped bring life to one of the more iconic characters in the history of popular culture. Now that the Australia-born actor has tackled comic books, it appears he’s set his sights on the world of gothic literature.

On paper, Van Helsing looks like a sure thing. Take the classic literary bad ass (and fearless geriatric) back to his prime, cast an emerging star with proven appeal in the genre and pit him against the most legendary monsters in the Universal Studios vault. The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dr. Jekyll (with Mr. Hyde) and Dracula all make appearances.

Still, it has the feel of that big summer event movie that audiences rush to see on opening weekend, before spending the remainder of their night cursing Hollywood for its formulaic, product-pimping, PG-13 redundancy.
Or, it could be cool; really, all we’ve seen is a two-minute trailer.

From this we can infer that the filmmakers have taken full advantage of the fact that Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula’s chief antagonist in the classic Bram Stoker novel, is one of the most advanced scientists of his day. Accordingly, we are presented with a fleet of over-imagined, ghoul-defying gadgets that have no place in a Bond film, let alone a literary adaptation.

Then again, comparing the very mainstream Van Helsing to its gothic horror roots is like comparing new punk to actual punk, or 50 Cent to 2Pac. The latter lays the groundwork, while the former reaps the rewards.

Van Helsing will make money, but so did Sommers’ last outing, The Mummy Returns. There aren’t many people still talking about that one.

Helsing’s trailer contains more FX shots than the two Mummy movies combined. Still, rather than drooling in anticipation, you may end up rolling your eyes and pointing out the noticeably awkward blend of computer effects and reality.

Despite all this, Jackman is a solid anchor for a large-scale action movie, and Kate Beckinsale adds credibility and hotness as Anna, the female lead. Overall, Van Helsing looks like a toss-up, but chances are audiences will still be checking it out Friday, May 7.



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