Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ and ‘John Carter’ Stand Out

Best/Worst Movie Promos of the Week: ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ and ‘John Carter’ Stand Out

Dec 08, 2011

The Cabin in the WoodsLet’s face it; it’s not easy to come up with original material for feature films – and the same goes for their promotional campaigns. But, on the bright side, you can always take the good old concepts moviegoers love, put even the slightest spin on them and then highlight those elements all the way through to still offer something that feels fresh – and the same goes for promo material too, of course. Kudos to our best promos of the week for taking that idea and running with it. But, before we get to the best stuff, let’s take a look at what just missed the mark and what came nowhere close.

If only there were more room in The Best Stuff …

After Taken, anything in which Liam Neeson saves the day gets a free pass to awesome. But, even beyond Neeson, The Grey looks like a pretty incredible ride. Similar to Frozen, the trailer gives off a particularly chilly vibe that doesn’t only thrill via the visuals, but actually makes you a tad cold.

Hmmm …

I don’t really know what to make of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and I’ve got a good feeling it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not very familiar with the duo’s work. The trailer is certainly on the unconventional side, but there’s also something about it that makes me feel like I shouldn’t knock it without at least trying it. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got a new clip from The Devil Inside. While the material is incredibly engaging, especially when it relies so heavily on one character’s monologue, the fact that the ending is rather predictable keeps it out of the top tier of this piece.

If only there were more room in The Worst Stuff …

This heading applies to this selection far more than the previous two, so much so that I toyed with the idea of having five worst promos this week. But, in an effort to not be an extreme promo Debbie Downer, I sucked it up and gave Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and New Year’s Eve a little slack. But still, Alvin and those damn chipmunks are just so incredibly annoying. I used to love their tunes as a kid, but this rendition of “Vacation” is almost painful to listen to. Another fairly painful experience is watching Gary Marshall squander so much talent in New Year’s Eve. Not only do these clips show the film is absolutely devoid of rousing plots, but also drowning in uninspiring performances.

But, like I said, no Debbie Downer; let’s move on to some material that gives us a lot to look forward to.

The Best Stuff

1. The Cabin in the Woods Trailer: Blow my campy horror movie loving mind, why don’t ya? Sure, the new trailer for The Cabin in the Woods might tread into spoiler territory just a bit, but there really is no other way to approach this one. Cut the piece short and you end up with exactly what Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon wanted to avoid (and poke fun at) – the cliché presentation of kids vacationing in the woods and getting into trouble. Then again, imagine going into a theater and expecting to see more of the same only to find out that The Cabin in the Woods actually has this crazy somewhat supernatural element to it? Now that would be incredible. But, even though I’m in on their not-so-secret secret, I still get the feeling this one’s going to be a mind bending and wildly enjoyable blast.

2. The Five-Year Engagement Trailer: I often get a bit annoyed when a movie is promoted to be “from the producers of so and so.” What does that even mean if it’s not a sequel? However, in the case of The Five-Year Engagement, noting that the film comes from the producers of Bridesmaids actually does help solidify the tone, but appropriately, only to a degree. It’s not the “new Bridesmaids,” but, based on the content in this trailer, it looks as though The Five-Year Engagement is a far more intimate and wholesome experience while still maintaining a degree of the zest and raunchiness that made Bridesmaids such a good time. Plus, Emily Blunt and Jason Segal are both generally fantastic on their own, but here, they make an exceptionally fun pair, earning a ton of laughs and also showing off a great deal of chemistry.

3. John Carter Banners: Am I on board the 3D train? Hugo certainly got me close, but I’ve still got to say, no, not yet. However, that doesn’t mean appropriate 3D marketing doesn’t make me psyched for an upcoming film. When it comes to selling a 3D production through posters, we tend to get the same old garbage – rather cartoonish renderings that basically force-feed you that third dimension. However, in the case of these John Carter banners, the artists simply let the brilliantly place title text do the work. The images themselves are quite striking and do show off the film’s use of the extra dimension, but it’s that title placement that really makes the foreground pop. On top of that, the choice to go with a simple yet bold text style winds up being quite eye-catching, but doesn’t take the attention away from the imagery.

John Carter Banner

The Worst Stuff

1. The Wicker Tree Trailer: Didn’t we get this movie already? Oh, no; that was The Wicker Man. Well, looks like there won’t end up being much of a difference because The Wicker Tree looks just as bad as The Wicker Man, the Nicolas Cage version, of course. However, oddly enough, The Wicker Tree is directed by the guy who directed the original The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy. Sure, maybe the actual feature isn’t all that bad, but this promo is absolutely useless. It’s always nice to get a trailer that doesn’t use a narrator as a crutch, but in this case, that intrusive voiceover is greatly missed. This piece tells us absolutely nothing about the plot beyond the fact that it has religious elements and something to do with that creepy tree. What era does this even take place in? The whole thing about the two young missionaries from the film’s synopsis? Don’t see that anywhere.

2. In The Land of Blood and Honey Clips: The trailer and poster are so good. What happened? Forget your Ambien or Tylenol PM; just check out these clips from In The Land of Blood and Honey and you’ll drift right off to sleep. With particularly talky movies, it can be tough to find a minute of material to release that can stand on its own and this issue is as evident as ever here. All of the scenes are mere moments from large ones and these moments are not capable of standing on their own. Even worse, the characters seem to be talking about rather weighty issues and yet I feel nothing. Then, taking it one step further, Jolie’s novice status behind the lens shows. These aren’t very stimulating shot choices; they seem more like decisions based on the need for scene coverage rather than the choice to use techniques that’ll enhance the material.

3. The Three Stooges Trailer: I haven’t seen much of The Three Stooges, but, of what I have watched, I do remember it being somewhat funny. They were originally funny, right? The material in the film version’s first trailer is pure stupid slapstick and the trio comes across as incredibly irritating. Sure, the trailer is fairly well paced, the cuts properly timed to highlight the jokes and the music quite appropriate, but after watching a minute and 46 seconds of The Three Stooges, I just can’t imagine someone sitting through a whole feature film full of this nonsense. I can’t lie though; the Snooki ending did make me laugh. Boy, did she deserve that.

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