As we’re all still trying to shake off the holiday season and get back to work, New Year's resolutions in tow, so are studio marketing departments. Over the past week, only a few bits of new material managed to trickle out, but even with the small handful, we actually got a couple of pieces that are quite successful, more than enough to fill the Best Stuff department.
Just missing out on top honors is the first trailer for The Impossible, the Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor-starrer about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Packed with a wild amount of picturesque -- albeit, heart- wrenching -- images, the latest from Antonio Bayona looks devastating while remaining respectful of the tragedy through solid filmmaking.
On a horrific, but more playful note, we’ve got a new clip from Ti West’s The Innkeepers. Having seen the film, I can assure you that while this bit most certainly isn’t a spoiler, it is one of the feature’s tensest moments, largely due to an honestly terrified Pat Healy.
Before jumping into the best of the best, here’s a quick shout out to a movie that’s somewhat come to life, Anchorman. Apparently someone played a trick on this news anchor in the vain of the film and while the bit makes the news team look incredibly unprofessional. I’d love to work there!
Here we go -- I present your first round of Best/Worst Movies Promos of the Week of 2012.
The Best Stuff
1. The Grey Featurette: As if anticipation for another early-year thrill from Liam Neeson wasn’t high enough, now we get this featurette for The Grey that’s basically a Liam Neeson highlight reel. For a guy with a reputation like Neeson’s, this piece really makes for the perfect marketing tool. Clearly the guy’s got a knack for getting involved in wild action films, but how does he pick them? This featurette tells you.
While it's rather evident that this piece -- and probably the movie -- belong to Neeson, the video offers a decent amount of insight from director Joe Carnahan as well as Neeson’s co-cast. Of course they’re primarily talking about working with Neeson, but we also get a solid sense of the story and characters through their accounts and the corresponding clips from the film. Speaking of those clips, the transition between the B-roll and the actual footage of the film highlights the strikingly authentic conditions the cast and crew worked in. It’s tough enough watching them make the film in that kind of terrain; imagine how chilling the full film will be!
2. Return Trailer: You go, Linda Cardellini! Okay, maybe the Cardellini praise in the new trailer for Return is a bit excessive, but as an intense Freaks and Geeks and ER fan, it’s impossible not to root for what looks to be a solid leading performance in a rousing drama. The footage is notably effective, director Liza Johnson going with a somewhat documentary-like style, and the pacing of the trailer work extremely well, both hitting key emotional notes and propelling us through Cardellini’s character’s post-war phases providing a nice overview of the full film. Pair all that with the escalating disconcerting background music, and you can really feel the pressure build as the situation intensifies.
3. Things Fall Apart Trailer: Talk about a nice surprise. After Twelve, it’s been rather tough trying to imagine 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) completely lose his larger-than-life persona and embody his Things Fall Apart character, Deon, an all-star football player who finds out he’s got cancer. The pre-diagnosis version of Deon basically looks like 50 with dreads, but once the wig comes off, he’s practically unrecognizable. Of course that has a lot to do with the incredible amount of weight he had to drop for the role, but there’s certainly something here that suggests 50 might really pull this off, or at least enough to make me want to catch Things Fall Apart.
The Worst Stuff
1. Bad Ass Trailer: Machete’s a pretty intense and wild character, and the movie itself has a rather campy tenor to it, but director Robert Rodriguez absolutely nails the tone, affording Machete enough realism to take somewhat seriously. Bad Ass, on the other hand, comes across as one big joke – and a joke that takes itself far too seriously at that. Danny Trejo returns as another unlikely hero, but instead of selling Frank Vega as an older gentlemen with a mean punch who doesn’t like to fight, he seems more like Trejo having some fun with a goofy skit. Then there’s the problem with the plot. Sure, a fight like that would probably get tons of YouTube hits, but that isn’t enough to sustain this 50-second trailer and leaves us wondering whether or not Bad Ass is just one big joke.
2. Safe House Poster: Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington look good, but this design? Not so much. That first poster of a solo Washington ominously melting into the image’s black background is quite striking and appropriately disconcerting, but by throwing Reynolds into the mix, it takes the attention away from the story and puts it on the film’s star power, which almost always feels like a marketing copout. The design team could have had some fun with the concept of a safe house, using some sort of imagery to explain Reynolds and Washington’s positions in conjunction with said safe house. While Washington’s extreme close-up vs. Reynolds’s wide shot does achieve the intended effect, showing that Washington is the power player of the two, there are many more visually pleasing ways to get that across.
3. Man on a Ledge TV Spot: I almost don’t even want to blame this on the TV spots’ creators. The Man on a Ledge plot is just seemingly too big for a 30-second bit and this video is absolutely manic. Perhaps rather than tie the events to Sam Worthington’s character’s true motivation, this TV spot should have been comprised of two simple pieces – a man on a ledge and the simultaneous robbery. By trying to squeeze in all the details and toss in all of the film’s famous faces, the piece veers wildly out of control, and once it ends, rather than stick with you, it feels more like a mere flash in the pan.