Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Five Best Trailers of 2012

Now that I've discussed in varying degrees of seriousness my five least favorite trailers of 2012, I thought it was only appropriate to post my five favorite trailers of the year, which if you ask me was one of the better years for trailers that I can remember.  One point of note: in this list I am referring to very specific trailers of the films I have listed, no teasers or lazy TV spots will be found here.  I linked to the specific trailer I'm referring to with each one, so check out the links I have posted.  

#5: Zero Dark Thirty

Ever climbing the charts on my most anticipated list, this trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to her Best Picture winning The Hurt Locker is heart-racing, hard-boiled, sleek and bad-ass.   Starting off with a great piece of dialogue near the beginning about the dire straits the CIA was in during their hunt for Bin-Laden, we see a few shots a few shots of Jessica Chastain, who is the lead in the film but is ingeniously is not heard speaking anywhere in this trailer, giving her an air of mystery to play in the viewer’s mind while they wait on pins and needles for the film to be released (Just me??). 

#4: The Dark Knight Rises

This is the first of two trailers on my list that feature Anne Hathaway, yet still somehow made my list.  My love of Nolan’s Batman trilogy is well-documented around these parts, so it probably comes as no surprise that the trailer for this film would end up on my list.  My anticipation for the film was obviously quite high before it was released, but that aside, this is actually a very well-executed trailer.  The ominous, faint piano accents from Hans Zimmer accompanying the shots of various acts of terrorism by Bane give us a feeling of general discomfort, and this leads into Bruce Wayne’s capture and torture.  We don’t know if or when he is coming back.  

“Hope is Lost,” but then the bass line drops in Zimmer’s music as we see a shot of Catwoman riding out on to the streets of Gotham under gorgeous green lighting (at 1:19), and then everything begins boiling up to an emotional peak that is undeniably well-executed.  For such a mainstream franchise, this trailer is a level of artistic achievement not normally expected. Well done, Warner Bros.  

#3: Les Miserables

The second trailer on my list featuring Anne Hathaway! I don’t know how this happened! (Why do I hate Anne Hathaway?) 

In all honesty though, this is a pretty great trailer.  Accompanied by Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” the trailer introduces us to all the various characters of this beloved musical, and gives us a preview of the gorgeous cinematography, production design, and other craftsmanship we can expect to see on Christmas Day when the film is released.  Many cinephiles dismiss director Tom Hooper’s odd use of his camera, but to me some of the shots we see here are pretty irresistible, from the tracking shot of the children running toward the camera at 0:17, to the shot on the ceiling at 0:23, to the floor level angle of Jackman in the church at 0:28.

There is a subsequent trailer which displayed the singing of some of the other actors like Jackman, Crowe, Redmayne and Seyfriend, but to me I really enjoy this first trailer’s focus on Hathaway’s song, which really sets the emotional and thematic stage for what we can expect in the film.  Very moving. 

#2: The Master

Everyone’s probably tired of me talking about The Master, but this is probably the last time I’ll bring it up, at least until my Top 10 Films of 2012 column comes along. The story of this particular trailer is very interesting to me, simply because a lot of the shots and dialogue we see here didn’t even make it to the final cut of the film (for instance, the scene in the jail cell where Joaquin Phoenix shouts “just tell me something that’s true!”).

The snippets of various beautiful on-location shots, the sleek late 1940’s aesthetic, the general malaise due to Johnny Greenwood’s amazing original music, and an excellent preview of Joaquin Phoenix’s craziness and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s manipulation all add up to an excellent piece of work here.  

#1: Prometheus

One of the biggest disparities for me ever between how I felt about a trailer versus the actual movie was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, the reach-for-the-stars intergalactic summer blockbuster which sought to deliver an interesting theory about the origins of life on planet earth, but really only delivered a beautiful looking pile of horse crap. The trailer, however, featured unique and gorgeous photography, and was constructed so well that I was naïve to all of the many problems the film ended up having. Here’s a breakdown of how great the trailer was compared to the film:

In the Trailer: References to mythology and archaeology that promised some sort of revelatory thoughts on the originations of life on earth.

In the Film: Nothing even remotely revelatory about anything.

In the Trailer: The pulsating, tension-building screeching sound that made me want to watch the trailer over and over.

In the Film: Exactly one character that isn’t one-dimensional.

In the Trailer: Some shots of Noomi Rapace looking like a legit action star. 

In the Film: Perhaps the worst performance of Charlize Theron’s career.

In the Trailer:  Logan Marshall Green with a small speaking part.

In the Film: Logan Marshall Green with way too big of a speaking part.

In the Trailer: Some seriously stunning quick-cut editing in the final 30 seconds that made every male between the ages of 12-40 foam at the mouth a little bit.

In the Film: Characters doing things so incomprehensible that even cliché horror films wouldn’t even make their characters do.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Five Worst Trailers of 2012

Now that 2012 is one month shy of being in the books, and we’ve seen every trailer for films that are going to be released this year, I thought it was time I introduced two new columns I hope to write every year: The Five Worst Trailers of 2012, and the Five Best Trailers of 2012 (coming soon). 

By way of introduction, my set of criteria for the “worst” list is basically this: how terrible do I think the film will be, based on the trailer? For instance, the trailer for Gangster Squad is a pretty terrible trailer in and of itself, but I also know that it stars Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, and Emma Stone, and it is directed by the visionary man who gave us Zombieland, so it makes me think it won’t be a totally terrible film. 

And that’s pretty much the extent of it. Other than that, please be aware that I conducted way more research than was necessary here in order to give you the best possible list (I watched A LOT OF CRAPPY TRAILERS). Hope you enjoy.

#5: What to Expect When You’re Expecting 

It was a tough call at #5 between the two barrel-scraping ideas that somehow got made into feature motion pictures this year: this film, and Battleship.  I can imagine an old studio exec, fresh out of creative ideas, saying this: “Yeah, well...I do have a couple of ideas, but I think they’re kinda lame...see one is based on a hit board game in which you guess numbers to sink the other team’s boats...and the other, I don’t really know what it’s about but there’s this book everyone reads when they get pregnant and I think it would make a great, catchy title for a film...” 

And somehow, those are the two ideas that get made into films.

The trailer itself isn’t so offensive that it shocks the conscience, but the tired “get me the epidural!!” joke did nothing to win me over, nor did the obligatory playing of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” as the group of husbands enter with strollers in tow.  Then when Glee’s Matthew Morrison made his appearance and a woman literally sneezed her baby out of her vagina, I didn’t feel like watching the rest of the trailer; but I’m assuming that one of the dads gets hit in the nuts at some point, or a toddler screams something really inappropriate (at which point the audience laughs uncontrollably), or Cameron Diaz does something that 35-year old women think is hilarious but everyone else is confused by this, or whatever.  Anyway, I don’t plan on catching up to this one anytime soon.

#4: Dark Shadows 

Hey, look everyone! Tim Burton made another film adapted from black comedic material! Whoa, hold on, is that...Johnny Depp in the lead role, playing some sort of idiosyncratic weirdo?! No way!! Wait wait wait, don’t tell me Helena Bonham Carter is in this also, playing some sort of freak with frizzy hair...that would just be unprecedented!

Seriously, Tim Burton’s paycheck could not be sticking any further out of his back pocket.  The guy has made two good movies in the last 10 years, Big Fish and Sweeney Todd (the latter mainly being because he left Sondheim’s musical mostly un-bastardized).  But he and Disney keep making bank, so why would anyone try to improve what they’re doing? He is the definition of mediocre.

#3: Stolen 

This wouldn’t be a respectable list of any sort if there weren’t a film starring Academy Award Winner Nick Cage!! (I just loved that they threw that in there). In apparently what was the rejected first script for the movie Taken, badass Cage is a former criminal (but the crime he committed was probably a misunderstanding and I’m sure he has a great heart) whose daughter is...wait for it...STOLEN...and he must steal $10 Mil for the ransom demanded by his former partner who probably should have spent a little longer in the makeup department finding a wig (while I’m at it, can we just stop for a moment to mourn the death of Josh Lucas’s promising career?).  What are the odds that a studio executive somewhere just goes all-out and develops the idea for a film in which Liam Neeson AND Nick Cage’s daughters are simultaneously kidnapped and then, in a shocking twist of events, the former criminal and the intelligence agent must work together to get them back? The film would obviously be called TAK3N: STOLEN YET AGAIN. 

#2: This Means War 

Two white, male, ultra good-looking CIA Agents (aren’t they all, in movies?)  discover they are dating the same hot white blonde and instead of being mad at her for being a cheating skank, try to screw with each other for the next hour and a half while you wonder how, exactly, your girlfriend dragged you into seeing this and whether or not she will still aptly reward you later if you are checking basketball scores throughout the movie.  Your interest level is unaffected when the two agents realize that they must work together to solve an imminent international crisis (after some crotchety old and/or probably black boss tells them he doesn’t care about their personal s*** because they have a job to do), and then probably have some witty back-and-forth bantering about the love triangle as they are being rapidly fired upon in their final mission.  

Also, there’s probably an explosion and somehow the white skank gets involved in the mission and put in harms way and one of the agents saves her. (I just made up that whole plot, but it sounds pretty plausible, right?)

#1: That’s My Boy

Film criticism of Adam Sandler movies has become a living organism all on it’s own, to the point where I think some critics go out of their way to apologize for his films in order to go against the grain; still, every time a Sandler film is released, the best part of my day is firing up the ole’ internet and reading every review I can get my hands on.  If I had done this column last year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jack & Jill would have taken the top prize in this contest, what with its barrier-breaking commentary on cross-dressing and all (wait, no? oh). 

Anyway, whatever greatness Jack & Jill may have brought to the table, the trailer for That’s My Boy demonstrates Sandler’s uncompromising, stubborn determination to constantly improve upon himself with each passing film.  Where Jack & Jill gave us cross-dressing jokes, That’s My Boy gives us pedophilia humor*.  Al Pacino in a cameo? Psshh, we’ll give you Rex Ryan in a cameo!  Other things we’ll just throw in for free here: a chick catching a fly ball in her cleavage, tattooing your 8-year-old son’s back, ripping off your own drunk voice from your Billy Madison character, strip club after strip club, ripping off the “waaazzzzuuupppp!!!” voice from the decade-old Budweiser commercials, more strip clubs, and did I mention pedophilia humor? 


*As long as we are all aware that if this was a female student who was in a relationship with a male teacher, the public outcry would be deafening and all kidding aside this is a ridiculous double-standard being promoted here.