Talk about uncomfortably good timing. Towards the tail end of the 2012 Summer Olympics when U.S.A. pride is high comes the teaser trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden movie, Zero Dark Thirty. It’s tough to say whether or not this could be the Hurt Locker follow-up we’re all hoping for, as it’s a particularly enigmatic teaser, but curiosity is still sky high so clearly the piece gets the job done. On a far more straightforward note, and almost to a fault, comes a pair of sports-movie trailers. The James Van Der Beek-starrer Backwards is certainly the tackier of the two, but the piece gets points for ditching that obnoxiously familiar sports voiceover. Trouble with the Curve shows signs of having a degree of cheese to it, but greatly benefits from what looks to be a sweet and honest relationship between Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams.
Over in the clips department we get our first piece of Pitch Perfect, which apparently is Universal’s version of Glee with a little more grit to it and some slightly off lip-synching. We blow things up with a clip from The Expendables 2. If mindless action is your thing, this bit will likely get the adrenaline pumping, but for those looking for a little something more, this piece isn’t tight enough to both give a viewer a general sense of what’s going on and make you wonder what happens next.
Clearly poster design wasn’t part of the filmmakers’ multi-year effort to get the Red Dawn remake on the big screen. The piece has some nice texture to it, but oddly placed and proportioned characters scream Photoshop and highlight the desperation to make a buck off some famous faces. The Red Dawn poster may be particularly disappointing because of the long wait, but it certainly is far from the worst of the week. What slipped below it? Find out that and what cracked the top three below.
The Best Stuff
1. Premium Rush Featurette: There are tons of movies out there involving unsuspecting innocent victims getting involved with the wrong people, but what makes Premium Rush stand out is its unsuspecting innocent victim’s line of work. Not only is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character’s bike-messaging gig the hook of the film, but the challenges of making a movie with that profession at the core is a tremendous production feat and endlessly fascinating. This featurette jazzes up what likely took endless hours of tedious planning to pull together, zipping the viewer through a series of graphics, clips and interviews, to convey just how dangerous shooting this film was while still offering up an entertaining piece of video. The featurette also delivers a variety of behind-the-scenes footage ranging from a home video of the aftermath of one of Gordon-Levitt’s tougher falls to a glimpse at the technical goodies that made shooting the high-speed action possible. Should the full feature be as exhilarating as this featurette, we should be in good shape.
2. This Is 40 Trailer: We all have funny friends in our lives, but does that funny friend keep you laughing 24/7? Of course not, and that’s why films like Knocked Up and hopefully This Is 40 stand out amongst the comedy crowd. The jokes and amusing awkward moments are there, but rather than assume the more outlandish the gag, the bigger the laugh, just like Knocked Up, this trailer for This Is 40 goes the grounded route, shelling out jokes that may not have you cracking up, but ones that earn a smile and make a connection because they’re not all that far off from reality. But still, I must admit, I did expect a few more laugh-out-loud moments from this new trailer and was just about to reduce it to an introduction honorable mention, but then came the hotel scene. Kudos to Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. I haven’t laughed out loud like that in quite a while. Watch out for giant rodents wearing bathrobes the next time you take a vacation.
3. 10 Years Poster: It’s a little tough to buy the Channing Tatum-Rosario Dawson way-back-when Polaroid at the center of the new poster for 10 Years, but the designers do deserve some major credit for coming up with a fun and appropriate spin on your average movie poster. Title on a coaster, cast names on nametags and taglines on Polaroids? Not only is it aesthetic, but it reveals quite a bit about the plot and the tone of the film as well. Plus it’s a setup that entices you to linger. This isn’t a design you can quickly glance at and move on; you need to take a moment to check out all the actors in attendance on the nametags and then figure out who you can spot in those pictures. It’s engaging and for a piece of still promotional art, that’s quite the feat.
The Worst Stuff
1. The Loft Trailer: Tone is important with any movie, but in the case of something on the darker side like The Loft, skewing your tone in the slightest could be detrimental. This new trailer starts off rather well, showing off the star-studded cast and a somewhat intriguing plot, but then in comes the twist and rather than clearly convey that it’s a truly horrific situation, it comes across more as a parody. This definitely has something to do with the silly spin on the story, the absurdity of the guys not going to the cops and that ridiculous blood-written message, but I’m far more eager to point a finger at the trailer’s score. Rather than go with something more foreboding like a horror-movie drone, the music presents The Loft as though it’s a suspenseful action film and considering that’s clearly not the case based on the footage from the film in this trailer, it makes the material come across as melodramatic.
2. Playing for Keeps Trailer and Poster: Oh, Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel. Why can’t either of you make a good movie anymore? (Actually, Butler does deserve credit for the 2011 release Coriolanus.) Playing for Keeps has crappy commercial romantic comedy written all over its new trailer and poster. There might be more to the piece in the full feature, but as it’s presented here, Playing for Keeps seems to be a bit all over the place, making an attempt at dabbling in every genre cliché including dad screwing up and wanting a second chance, Biel’s character on the verge of getting married, Catherine Zeta-Jones stepping in to screw up his effort to redeem himself and even throwing in Butler’s last ditch attempt at stopping a wedding. Then there’s that poster. Not only is it your typical thoughtless attempt at squeezing in all your famous faces and not hinting at the subject matter of the film in the least, but do you remember the design for the How Do You Know poster? That’s not a film you want to bear a resemblance to.
3. The Tall Man Clip: I’m sorry, Jessica Biel, but I just can’t help but keep giving you a hard time. At least this time around it’s not so much her melodrama that lands The Tall Man back in the Worst Stuff. It’s more so because the clip is a strange promotional tool for a horror film and because it’s flat-out awful. First off, what does this moment even say about the plot? None of the characters mention a single thing that relates to the story and the few things that are said are absolutely meaningless. Then there’s the silence. What exactly are we supposed to deduce from Biel sobbing in a diner where nobody is really even paying her much attention? And if that waitress’ swift return is supposed to be a jump scare, it’s bringing the overused technique to a new low.
What were your favorite -- and least favorite -- movie promos of the week?