Weekly movie trailer roundup: THE RUM DIARY vs. FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS

Thirteen years ago, Terry Gilliam teamed up with Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro to make a film based on Hunter S. Thompson’s acid trip of a book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Now, Depp stars in yet another adaptation of an uncontrolled substance-induced Thompson binge, THE RUM DIARY. Depp plays a journalist out on assignment (sound familiar?), but instead of Del Toro as his sidekick, Depp’s swarthy drinking buddy is played by Michael Rispolo, who gets bonus points for a nicely grown-in beard and what appears to be excellent comic timing. He’s in Puerto Rico this time, back before the U.S. planted a Starbucks and a McDonald’s along the main plaza. As far as I can tell from the trailer (I have not read the book), the plot line is somewhat more coherent than Gilliam’s 1998 Thompson adaptation, which is not to say it looks better. It goes like this: Depp drinks the hotel mini-bar dry, has a few laughs with a comely blonde (Amber Heard) and tries to expose Aaron Eckhart and his cohorts for a corrupt, possibly government-related scheme that receives little elucidation in favor of the more colorful, rum-soaked scenes they’re using the to sell the movie.

I’ll reserve final judgment for when the film comes out in late October, but all I can say is this: Gilliam got there first and he nailed it. And while this isn’t a remake, what can another adaptation of another Thompson book hope to accomplish that Gilliam didn’t already? In fact, this movie seems to be operating like any other franchise. For example, Spider-Man or Batman fans will see any remake no matter what, simply because they’re fans, just like fans of FEAR AND LOATHING will go and see this. What do you want to bet they’ll be disappointed?