Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: ‘The Hunger Games’ Makes An Impression

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: ‘The Hunger Games’ Makes An Impression

Mar 08, 2012

Katniss in The Hunger GamesAs such a hardcore movie buff, there’s really nothing more uplifting than having a tough time narrowing down the Best Stuff section in this piece.

Just missing the mark is the new trailer for ParaNorman. Coming from the folks behind The Corpse Bride and Coraline, this one’s got a winning mixture of childish fun and horror. Drop the horror, keep the childish fun and you’ve got the brand new teaser for Despicable Me 2. It’s safe to say those minions were the original’s breakout stars and now they’re back, as cute as ever and ready to lure you in for round two. Drop the childish fun and go back to the horror for another dose of Cabin in the Woods. Now that we know this isn’t your average murders-in-the-middle-of-nowhere romp, the film’s promotional campaign is embracing it, giving us a brand new trailer featuring quite a bit of the masterminds behind this vicious game.

Got 20 minutes to spare? We’ve got 10 minutes of footage from both John Carter and The FP. While it isn’t enough to sell John Carter as a solid full feature, this material is pretty engaging. As for The FP, after watching the first 10 minutes of the film, it’s either a yes or no; there’s no middle ground here. It’s a film about turf wars via a Dance Dance Revolution-type game. Ridiculous? Yes, but it doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t expect you to either.

 

The Best Stuff

1. The Hunger Games Clips: The clips have finally arrived! First, and quite surprisingly, we got one of the book’s most profound moments, when Katniss nails the apple in the Gamemakers’ pig’s mouth with her arrow. The clip’s backed by an eerie and inquisitive tune, something that appropriately leads the viewer to wonder what the girl on fire’s got up her sleeve. And, when Katniss finally does get the Gamemakers’ attention, she’s undoubtedly got yours, too.

A smart marketing move, rather than release another clip showing off more action, Lionsgate gives the dialogue the spotlight, showing the world Katniss’ very first encounter with her Capitol stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Not only do we have two solid performances here, but the camerawork suggests that Gary Ross isn’t taking any moment in this film lightly. We’ve got a one-on-one conversation, but rather than resort to mere singles on each, Ross shows off two angles on Cinna, one of which, the side view, is particularly striking, and then breaks one of the most basic rules of filmmaking; he jumps the line. It’s tough to tell how effective this will be when watching the scene in the full feature, but based on this snippet, I suspect it marks a turn in the conversation, from hesitant introductions to getting down to business and doing what it takes to ensure Katniss “makes an impression.”

2. The Hobbit Production Video 6: In case you’ve missed it, Peter Jackson has been releasing production videos from the set of The Hobbit fairly regularly, each of which has offered up a notably in-depth look at the making of the film, far beyond the large majority (if not all) of the “behind-the-scenes” featurettes we get. They’re all incredibly well edited, with a nice balance of cast and crew interviews and on-set b-roll, which all stimulate a need to know more, allowing the videos to hold your attention for their 10-mintue+ running times.

What’s particularly noteworthy about video #6 (and #5 as well) is what it takes to make things happen on location while using two units. Perhaps this is because I’ve struggled with the tribulations of shooting even just a short film, but it’s incredibly interesting to see how such a large-scale project handles even the smallest of details, like feeding the cast and crew, and getting equipment through less-than-ideal terrain. I certainly don’t want to knock set visits as I absolutely love covering them, but this is an exceptionally informative way to convey what it’s like to make a movie.

3. Tonight You’re Mine Poster: Not every movie has the luxury of being based on much-beloved source material. Some must rely solely on their promotional campaign in order to build enough intrigue to attract an audience, and that’s very much the case with the UK film Tonight You’re Mine, particularly for folks from the US.

This one already has a string of striking poster designs, but it’s the most recent release that inspired me to do a little research, as it’s something I’d very much like to hang in my apartment. The film is about a pair of feuding rock stars who are handcuffed together while at a music festival where they’re both set to perform. Tonight You’re Mine is due out in the states on May 11th, and should the film make as much of an impression as this poster, this design might actually earn a spot on my wall.

Tonight You're Mine

 

The Worst Stuff

1. That’s My Boy Trailer: Adam Sandler, can’t you just go away? And that’s coming from someone who’s been a devout Sandler fan since Billy Madison arrived back in 1995. Sandler’s movies never really earned positive reviews, but there was something about his portfolio that suggested he didn’t really care; he believed in what he did and that’s what made all the absurdity so much fun.

While it still seems like Sandler couldn’t give a damn about what critics think, rather than put all his focus on the comedy, his mind appears to be geared more towards delivering moneymakers. Grown Ups, Just Go with It, Jack and Jill and now That’s My Boy? The only reason Sandler isn’t as irritating in this one as he was in Jack and Jill is because his character isn’t dressed up like a woman. Here he’s more like Robbie Hart minus all the charm. None of the jokes are funny, a large majority of them are too grotesque to even watch and the story itself is just totally unappealing. No thank you – yet again.

2. What to Expect When You’re Expecting Trailer: Speaking of comedies that need to just go away, What to Expect When You’re Expecting has dropped another lame trailer, oozing with baby clichés and unfunny jokes. While the attempt at using trailer two to appeal to a male audience is a noble one, there’s just no way it can be successful with this content. This whole dude’s group thing isn’t enough to sustain a full trailer.

There are just so many times we can hear about the no judging rule and see this band of dads screw up before we’re bored with it. And, while most movies do want to attract the broadest viewership possible, this male-centric promo begs the question: who is this really for? The dads make it look like a raunchy buddy comedy while the women show it off as a venting session with a humorous side. Yes, ultimately it can be a bit of both, but based on the material we’ve seen thus far, it’s doubtful it can sustain the two to the point at which both can appease their target audiences.

3. Meeting Evil Poster: Oddly enough, this design isn’t for Meeting Evil’s DVD cover. The border design and the text font are effective assets; the problem is everything else. Can the character positioning and facial expressions get more prescriptive? And then there’s that tacky tagline. “Evil comes knocking.” Based on the film’s synopsis there’s much more to the story than that. Apparently Samuel L. Jackson’s character shows up at Luke Wilson’s door and then takes him on a “murder-fueled ride.” I’d like to bet a murder-fueled ride could inspire some more interesting imagery than this poster.

 

Meeting Evil Poster

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