Category: Trailers

Trailers: The Disparate Mob

Oh dear. I appear to have grown weary of “dopey showgirls in gooey gowns” and come out the other side. After months of the same trailers attacking me from all sides, I’ve been struck by a few new works that prove that the art of trailer sculpting.

First up is Juno, which I admittedly did not see in the cinema:

Until I realised the secret sentimentality of Thank You For Smoking which detracted only slightly from its total … “rockitude”, I was quite in love with Jason Reitman’s work. Juno looks like another one of those films that fit into the incredibly malleable list of “movies made for Alex”. It looks like the right sort of melanchomedy that I eat right up – and, of course, I love Michael Cera. And … well, pretty much the whole cast. Jennifer Garner ain’t quite Jennifer Connelly, but hey! She can have my love anyway.

Anticipation: high.

The next trailer up is something that I was a bit more dubious on, Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium:

Yeah, I saw this trailer and I could only really think “what?”. It was seen before Hairspray, and Ajay turned to me and said “Let’s go see Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium!” I was forced to reply “I think we already did.”
I’m assuming that this is a movie about a fellow lacking imagination (Jason Bateman – keep on working, friend!), who rediscovers the spirit of wonder through Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman and a magical toy store. If you watch the trailer very carefully, you can pinpoint Jason Bateman rediscovering the spirit of wonder!

So I don’t really know what to make of Magorium, save to say that I find no greater joy than in Natalie Portman in this mode, and that the reason Dustin Hoffman is looking as he did in Stranger than Fiction is because this is written by Zach Helm, who also wrote that fine film. So I’m going on talent, “Magic” (you know), and the fact that, yeah, Jason Bateman rediscovering the spirit of wonder warms my heart.

Also, in relation to Hollywood’s newfound passion for converting children’s fantasy novels into movies, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising is being made into The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. I had assumed it was some newfangled kid’s franchise, but my mother assures me that it’s from 1974. Apparently it’s been rewritten beyond recognition, so that’s a moot point, but I don’t think I can really fit in another “American kid surrounded by British actors” movie.
Will they never end?

Iron Man: Ticket to Trailer Town

I would complain that Robert Downey Jr. plays all of his roles in exactly the same fashion, but he does it so damned well. I’d say he was the best thing about Zodiac, but everyone in that movie played their parts well, they just couldn’t make them interesting.

Keeping in mind Downey Jr.’s quality (quite different to Faramir’s quality), I am pleased to see that the first Iron Man trailer is online. If you listen very carefully, it’s impossible to miss … that song.

I like the idea of Iron Man’s origin story: that, rather than creating a super weapon for a terrorist cell, he turns himself into a super weapon and beats up the terrorist cell. Now I understand that Iron Man has, in recent comics, turned into a kind of one man hero registry, ready to round up everyone and tell them what for. The film series (and, who knows, it might be a Hulk level disaster, although I think it takes a lot of effort to make a movie that incoherent) is not yet at that point. We don’t even see Samuel L. Jackson storming onto the scene as Nick Fury. But I’m excited, and I have virtually no knowledge of this franchise at all.

Strangely enough, it’s almost impossible to tell that this is a Marvel movie. Obviously they’ve got the title at the beginning, but it doesn’t have any of the “importance” of Spider-Man or the “high budget masquerading as low budget fake whimsy” of Fantastic Four behind it.

I’m quite looking forward to Iron Man now, and it gets extra bonus points for being directed by Jon Favreau, who was smote down by the mighty fists of karma wielded by Jason Lee. There’s hope for this world yet, my friends.

Next! Movies that are Superbad

Nicolas Cage! What are you doing to me, man! On a morning that I felt all warm and fuzzy towards you thanks to Adaptation, I found out that you made Next:

Clearly, Jessica Biel is Hollywood’s new love interest … but who could love Nicolas Cage with that hair? This is a Phillip K. Dick vehicle, but we all know that guarantees nothing. For every Blade Runner there are a million Paychecks. For every A Scanner Darkly there’s a Total Recall (and how ambiguous is this statement?).
Much as I’ve grown to love Julianne Moore, she’s no guarantee of a quality movie. I mean, sure, she’s great and all … but Julianne Moore versus stupid hair Nicolas Cage? I’m not exactly in a hurry for that. No wonder there was a five month delay between the US and here.

On the other hand, Superbad, despite its tempting name, looks like it could be a fantastic comedic tour de force, even though it’s a teen sex comedy. Check out the “R Rated” trailer, which is totally not safe for work (but who uses YouTube at work? For shame):

I mean, come on! McLovin! Having a gun is like having two cocks … if one of your cocks could kill someone! So yeah, I don’t need to identify with the contents of a movie to enjoy it … unless you’re the pathetic friend of a Camero that creepily tries to get you to copulate with pretty girls on top of it. (That’s right, Michael Bay! You will never cease tasting my wrath!)

A Brett Ratner Film

Ah, trailers. Last night, I had the delight of seeing Knocked Up for a second time (and more of that later, because it was much better this time around). As it was when I saw it at Campbelltown, they kicked off with the more “sensitive” I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry trailer, which I very conveniently had to take a phone call during. (On the note of that cinematic gem, wowing box offices the US over, the movie is a unifying influence: hated by homosexuals and militant religious groups alike – perhaps it’s not so bad after all!)

The rest of the trailers were all new to me, though; it’s either the use of separate prints at separate cinemas or, quite likely, a second wind more than a month into the movie’s run (the same thing happened at Borat, which I saw three times at George Street).

So the first of the new ones is a big dose of what the eff for me.

Brett Ratner is now big enough for his name to appear above a film’s title? IMDB is listing for next year Untitled Brett Ratner Project? I won’t go so far as to say that he’s a vanity plate on the level of Michael Bay, but come on! Looking over his CV, he hasn’t done a lot, and some of his films have been innocuous, but when they weren’t, dear lord they weren’t.

First I’ll go with Jackie Chan, who I’ve got little to say except for this: Shanghai Knights ranks among the worst films I’ve ever seen. Owen Wilson was lucky that he had his work with Wes Anderson to fall back on, or I would punch him so hard in the face that his nose would finally fix itself and he would lose his cinematic trademark. You’re good value, Owen Wilson; don’t bring yourself down to this sort of level again. Despite the lack of Ratner activity, the Shanghai franchise was another Jackie Chan “buddy movie” – so I could bring it up here.

I don’t have much else to say about this trailer, besides the fact that it features an action sequence that looks pretty much directly lifted from the first Rush Hour and it features a lot of hilarious “The French and Americans hate each other!” jokes – Chris Rock thought it was because he’s black, but nooooo! Take that, humourous expectation! What really draws one’s attention is this:

You’re Asian! Stop humiliating yourself!

What the hell is that supposed to mean? This is a movie that has a fairly amusing “Who’s on first?” with Chinese names, but then … seriously, what the hell, Chris Rock? I’m essentially apoplectic with confusion. Are Asian people the new minstrels of Hollywood or something? They’re teaming them up with gays (please note: Asian people can be gay, too, which would make for a movie so funny the world would create a black hole from which no laughter could escape) across the land. We are truly in a new and golden age of cinema.

On the other hand, I saw the trailer for Die Hard 4.0 (strangely not going by its American title, Live Free or Die Hard), and if that’s not going to be the best movie ever, I don’t know what is. I mean, I’d heard that a car gets driven into a helicopter, but … seeing it in action!

My relationship with dumb action movies is patchy at best. Most of the time I couldn’t be bothered, but something about a movie of this calibre just gets my blood pumping. I’ve only seen the first Die Hard, starring Severus Snape and Carl Winslow, but I don’t think I need a lot of briefing for this movie. I think that one can pretty much just go and watch any Bruce Willis action movie and know what sort of things they can expect.

Also on offer was The Bourne Ultimatum, which had a trailer that was actually compelling, unlike the teaser that I saw at Breach (coincidentally, that was a great movie with powerhouse performances – vindicating my undying love for Laura Linney). I’m not going to share that here, but it’s still interesting to note that a trailer can either make a movie more appealing or a total turn off.

PS. When I saw The Simpsons Movie (and more on that later, although I’m tempted instead to submit a long, drawn out yawn), I was confronted with a trailer for Ratatouille. Sure, we’re way behind here, but it looks awesome.

Trailer Attack: Hairspray, Stardust and The Golden Compass

I never really put the idea of “John Waters” and “Children’s Movies” together, so I was surprised when I saw Hairspray trailers twice in the last week, both of them at movies with younger audiences in mind: first at Bridge to Terabithia (which, coincidentally, was marvellous), and then at Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).

I knew that Hairspray was coming soon, and I knew that John Travolta played the lead’s mother, and I knew that it looked mighty happy, but I had no idea that it would be marketed to children. I suppose this makes sense, because of the whole “Teen Dream” notion of the story. It even has Zac Efron of High School Musical fame in it (on that note, I don’t care how gay you are, High School Musical is in no way qualified to be anyone’s favourite musical).

Something about this trailer does it for me, despite even the typical voice over. I don’t know, I just love a good musical and I like that they’re allowed to be made again:

Just so long as Travolta doesn’t do some of the other things that Divine was known for (oh, Pink Flamingos, I look forward to dying without having seen you), this should be sweet.

Slighty separately, not quite for children, and also starring Michelle Pfeiffer, is Stardust:

I’m not as well read in the works of Neil Gaiman as I probably should be, but this looks both awesome and yet another “fantasy world from beyond the real world” story. What’s this, though? Flying ships?

Why, that’s enough to segue into The Golden Compass, the first in the apparently super blasphemous His Dark Materials series!

Dirigibles! Eff yeah! What I like most about this trailer is the same thing I liked most about Chronicles of Narnia: the total failure to anthropomorphise any of the animals. Fantasy worlds that make the fantastic out of the normal without going all silly are great.

So fantasy is “in” in a big way. My friend Casper said that all of this fantasy is well and good, but he wants to see more SF. It’s a hard sell, because fantasy is more naturalistic and it lends itself very well to the screen. Nobody likes the vacuum of space, but everyone loves flying ships and waterfalls! If I knew how to read, I know that I would be cracking out His Dark Materials and getting them done in time for Christmas. Now that I’ve started going to the movies again after what seems like a drought, I’m getting enthusiastic again. The rest of the year might be good indeed!

Oh, speaking of childrens’ movies: screw Bratz. If you go see that, even ironically, all hope is lost for you. OMG!

Set buckles to “swash”

The first Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End trailer surfaced today or thereabouts (actually, a few days ago; I’m not exactly topical at the moment).

I’m fairly excited about this movie, because I love swash, I love buckle, and I say nay to all of the Pirates naysayers who couldn’t believe that Dead Man’s Chest was a cliffhanger in excess of two hours. It was a half movie, like one that had drank of the unicorn. Having killed Harry Potter and regained its power, Pirates returns with At World’s End!

From what I can tell, the pirates of the world unite for a conference so that they can complain about global enterprise robbing them of their fun. This is the part where we suggest that Disney making a movie that criticises big business and crushing fine traditions is ironic to the max.

The promo materials on the walls emphasise the Chow Yun Fattitude of it all, and we’re assured by this trailer that Verbinski has taken every opportunity to use traditional cinematic “exotic shorthand”. Look at those vaguely Turkish pirates! Hooray for the pirates of Asia! Because the Pirates franchise is largely about fun, I can let them get away with these antics.
In these movies I will accept Geoffrey Rush cackling away like a madman just because … I don’t know. These films undersand the value of adventure and big set pieces. I think that part of this is because the franchise was born with absolutely no hope of a big return, and it ballooned into hugeness. While it’s got the cynical machinations of marketing bubbling deep beneath the surface now, the fun continues to float to the top.

On a completely unrelated note: why the hell are the Wachowski Brothers making a Speed Racer movie? I’ll only see it if I’m guaranteed that it will involve orgasm cake.

I couldn’t figure out how to use the “Pirate Viral Player”, so I didn’t bother.
I remember that “viral” things on computers used to be bad, but now companies just throw things on the internet and expect them to propagate. I suppose it’s a better situation.

Trailers: Threat Level Epsilon

Tonight I saw Little Children. Horrible but great. It was the calibre of film that attracts a good calibre of trailer. In addition to the now customary Notes on a Scandal trailer, there were two other good things.

They both look interesting enough to both be featured here.

Letters from Iwo Jima

This actually looks incredibly good. Unlike the Flags of Our Fathers trailer, which was always going to be a soft-sell to the “America, America, rah rah rah!” troupe, Letters from Iwo Jima‘s trailer concentrates on the human side of the story. It looks like a movie I could get emotionally involved in, and I’m now used to the colour scheme. I would feel kind of bad deciding this was the best picture Oscar winner a mere two days before the ceremony, but if it is, so be it.

The Good German

I was going to say something along the lines of George Clooney not liking colour anymore, but then I remembered Syriana. Dang, I hate that movie.
Anyway, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh teaming up means that the movie will either be good or a preachy snoozefest. I think that’s at their discretion, but I’ll look forward to this. One criticism of the trailer, or maybe I simply wasn’t paying attention: I don’t really have any idea of what this movie is about.

What am I going to do when I run out of Greek alphabet?

Trailers: Threat Level Delta

Because I prevaricated so much, some of these trailers have already been covered in the February preview and the Auspicious Beginnings of 2007 round up. But! This is not just about the movies, but also about their trailers! Seeing as I see trailers all the time, they are a sort of art. Unfortunately when I take notes on these things, I don’t always recall which trailers went with which movie.

Notes on a Scandal

Great as this movie looks, don’t see the trailer if you can avoid it. It gives entirely too much away about a story that should probably have revealed itself by turns. Still, that won’t stop me from going to see it.

The Good Shepherd

Matt Damon looks foolish in a suit, and this trailer doesn’t really indicate the movie’s time frame, but it looks sufficiently actor packed and De Niro directed and zeitgeist-like to be able to get away with that small shortcoming. Either that or it will be really boring. Still, Michael Gambon!

Epic Movie

Why the heckfire was this trailer shown at Apocalypto? Also why the heckfire was it made? Jayma Mays is pretty, yes, but two of the six writers of Scary Movie now have created enough physical evidence against themselves

Rocky Balboa

What I love about this movie is that Rocky was past his prime in the original, and here he’s sixty. It’s a flagrantly stupid idea! Still, should highly entertaining.

Ocean’s 13

I didn’t see Ocean’s 12, but I love Don Cheadle – particularly when he gets dressed up as an American flag. Sold!

Music and Lyrics

I think I’m over my Drew Barrymore hatred phase, but this isn’t my style. It’s the sort of movie that comes on TV and you watch it without thinking, but the fact that Drew Barrymore can’t sing and that this is a film in which Drew Barrymore sings stretches its credibility to the order of somewhat. The trailer wins points for gratuitous shots of Aasif Mandvi.


“We will block out the sun with our arrows!”
“Then we shall fight in the shade.”
Typical Frank Miller machismo given the screen treatment. I was only paying half attention to this trailer due to other concerns at the time, but it looks worthy.

History Boys

I wanted to see this when it was on at a theatre here, so to see it for a seventh of the price is a worthy investment indeed. When he’s not being (Uncle) Vernon Dursley, Richard Griffiths is an accomplished actor. Because this is the pick of the trailer run, you get to see it here:

The use of Blur’s “The Universal” here is really effective. It’s just another movie about teaching disadvantaged children to like learning, but those are frequently the most inspirational. I could buy it. It’s also worth noting that this trailer is significantly better than the Fox Searchlight effort.

Freedom Writers

So it’s exactly the same movie as History Boys, but with Hilary Swank instead of Richard Griffiths, and playing up the idea that America is run by gangs. Damned gangs. It may well be too preachy to consume: it’s essentially Take the Lead but with more gangs and with writing instead of dancing. Okay, fine: I’ve just realised that every movie is just a variation of every other movie. I still hold that if they’re done well it doesn’t matter.

Nothing’s seemed particularly outstanding or out of place. I’m just glad that the Stranger than Fiction trailers have left our screens. Even though it was a perfect trailer for a movie that turned out just about perfect, I saw it about ten times (and the movie itself twice). It will not be missed.

Trailers: Threat Level Toddler (Alpha)

I can’t believe how inauspicious I made the beginning of 2007. That’s what I get for trusting George Miller. Children’s movies, you see, lead to trailers for children’s films. Some children’s films are good, but you’ll get promos for a lot of dross looking stuff along the way.

Mrs. Potter

I’m not sure what to think of this yet. See my “January and February 2007 preview” for more or less information.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday

Bean is back, with more predictable jokes about falling down and eating things he doesn’t like! Hilarious! At least he doesn’t talk this time.

Happy N’ever After

Nooooooo! Why do we need another movie that subverts fairy tales? The trailer even admits that it’s the most derivative movie ever: “from the producer of Shrek I and II!” It’s another addition to the canon of CG movies that appear utterly soulless, regardless of the quality of the featured cast.
Normally when I do a trailer round up, I put up the pick of the trailers. No such luck here, so I’ll just put up Happily N’ever After in protest of its utterly derivative nature.

I’d say “the sad thing is, I’ll probably go and see it” but fortunately I’ve got too much other stuff to watch. Also the title is too stupid for me to even consider doing so.

Meet the Robinsons

This wasn’t really a trailer, but rather a “Hey people, turn off your phones, you bastards” message. In Australia, at least in my experience, cinema audiences are generally well behaved: you get the impression that if you do anything amiss, you will be taken out and beaten (and rightly so!). Any sort of transgression of the code on your part is generally a great cause of shame; obviously this does not apply to the shameless.
Not all audiences are perfect, but generally we don’t need this sort of warning (last time I saw one of these was at Over the Hedge in July, where they used Open Season to tell you to turn your phones off).

As for Meet the Robinsons themselves? The posters I’ve seen at the cinemas make the film look like it’s all flash, no bang. One of my specialties is supposed to be animation, but I’m finding it harder and harder to muster the enthusiasm.

I doubt I will see any of the three films on offer that fateful night. Except I just remembered that Mrs. Potter was on, and that might glean some attention from me.

Babel Promo Blitz!

I saw a trailer for Babel today, when I saw Borat for a third time. Borat is funny, but Australians are philistines: all three times, I’m the only one who laughed at “well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
How can you not know that, Australia! You laugh at the following joke only because it involves mention of Hitler! To describe myself as “disappointed” doesn’t even cover it.

Anyway: Babel. This movie is a hard sell, but the trailer made an earnest effort of making it appear as if it focuses on the story of Richard and Sarah. The problem with this idea is that it has to pay lip service to the other three stories, and we have to wonder what relation they could possibly have (with the exception of the Moroccan story, of course; there’s little room for misinterpretation there).

It also commits the other duty of trailers in this modern age: explaining the title. (This is something that I wished The Pursuit of Happyness had done, because that title angers me something fierce). I think that the story of the tower of Babel is becoming increasingly obscure to people who … don’t play video games or watch anime.

Still, if I wasn’t me, who just goes into a cinema and says “amaze me” – shaking my fist in disappointment at the directors that fail me – then I don’t think I would want to see Babel.
The promo blitz appears to have started in earnest, though: this was obviously a new print of Borat, designed both to suggest that the little fake Kazakhi who could has staying power and that … people should go and see Babel; on the side of things that does not involve going to a film to learn about films, the Sydney Morning Herald published its review yesterday and the feature article of its Spectrum section today is on the film.

Even Dendy Opera Quays has taken hold. It appears that, in this day and age, Dendy is showing more “mainstream” independent films – the sort that will play on George Street. If you’re playing on George Street, I wouldn’t think that you would have to play at the Quays, but this is apparently not the case (also, Dendy Newtown is showing Borat! For shame! Put back on What the bleep do we know?! at once, blackguards!).
The lounge area downstairs at Opera Quays* now has an interesting montage of promo shots from Babel filling one of its walls. I’d almost go and see the movie there, if I hadn’t already been to George Street (also, George Street has better access to restaurants and what not; my enjoyment of Babel was greatly enhanced by the Korean BBQ that I enjoyed on Liverpool street afterwards**).

I’ve read, through vaguely incomplete sentences on Wikipedia, that Babel has been far from a financial smash. What do you expect of such a hard sell? I loved it, but I’ve warned all of my coworkers who hate subtitles to stay away – three quarters of the film is in “foreign”.

Natural biases against reading will prevent many from seeing Babel, but come on: Brad Pitt! Cate Blanchett! Gael Garcia Bernal! And, for some reason, Koji Yakusho as a saleable figure!
Just go see it, people! If there are any ads on TV promoting it, I’ll keep note. Movies that actually receive advertising where it counts are always going to be the ones that survive … maybe Babel is supposed to be a mixture of media and viral influence.

*I realise that the majority of my audience is a small group of Americans, and therefore my descriptions of places in Sydney are largely irrelevant. Read them and weep.
**Weep, I say!