RogerBW's Blog

July 2015 Trailers 01 August 2015

Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are to youtube.)

Legend: makes the Krays look appropriately un-glamorous, but if they aren't glamorous why should I want to watch a film about horrible people doing horrible things?

Creed: if you find boxing in the slightest bit interesting, you might like this film. Looks from this like a film written originally for the "urban audience" (because Americans can't say "black people"), and then Stallone pointed out that he would indeed do anything for money.

Secret in Their Eyes: looks like a feature-length episode of Criminal Minds. Apparently monomaniacal focus on revenge is a good thing now. If the film shows how that sort of focus can completely destroy your life, maybe it has something to say, but the trailer frames it as an utterly conventional get-the-bad-guy story.

Steve Jobs: does its best not to look like a hagiography, but it's going to end up being one anyway, as biopics of people with living relatives (and their lawyers) always are.

Jenny's Wedding: apparently Coming Out To The Parents is still a thing. Well, maybe it is, I wouldn't know, but I got the impression that was the big concern a generation ago rather than now. The entire plot is summed up in the trailer, just in case you thought there might be any surprises.

Ant-Man: I could probably bring myself to care about yet another lovable schmuck who becomes an incompetent superhero, but it would take a lot of effort. Was anyone crying out for an Ant-Man film?

The Transporter Refueled: the first three films worked, when they did, entirely on Jason Statham's charisma. This one doesn't have Jason Statham, replacing him with some white-boy rapper. It attempts to fill this gaping hole with Hawt Babes. I think this will make Transporter 3 look subtle. Actually, the only way this will be enjoyable for me is if it's overblown to the point of parody, which it may well be.

Sharknado 3 Oh Hell No: The Asylum does what The Asylum does. I find I have to be in the right sort of mental state to watch this sort of thing; once I am, I can enjoy it hugely, but I can quite understand why people hate it. (Bonus trailer: Shark in Venice, though it leaves out the best actor in the thing.)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl: Kristen Wiig is usually a good sign, but the novel was basically an autobiographical work-through-my-horrible-life and that's not often a thing that works well on screen. But I might give this a look.

Goosebumps: presumably it's meant to appeal to fans of the books, because otherwise it's an awfully generic story. I wonder if it will acknowledge that all the bad stuff is happening purely because the "hero" went in and messed things up. Probably not. Man, remember when Jack Black was edgy?

Labyrinth of Lies: clearly terribly worthy, but doesn't appear to answer the core question: who is helped by digging up the past? If you're going to try to present a conflict, you need to make both sides actually interesting and with points to make on their side, not just "oh that guy's CRUSADING and the other guys are ex-Nazis".

90 Minutes in Heaven: this particular claim to have "seen heaven" hasn't actually been admitted to be a fabrication yet, but it's still one guy's unsupported word and he has an obvious incentive to keep claiming it. Meh.

The Finest Hours: apparently based on the US Coast Guard's rescue of the Pendleton and Fort Mercer crews in 1952. Disney means we see more of the Brave Fiancée than of the crew-rescuing action, but as long as the film itself gets the balance a bit more even this might be quite fun.

Bridge of Spies: Spielberg's apparently trying for a Serious Historical Film like George Lucas's dismal failure Red Tails. Is there enough interest in Cold War stories now that Russia's waving its genitalia around again? I can't see this being hugely popular, though visually it's very attractive; in the end it's basically lawyers arguing.

Brooklyn: I'm unqualified to judge. Many Americans love immigrant stories; I don't find them interesting unless they have something more to say. And many filmgoers love Nick Hornby's screenwriting, whereas I find him to have a tin ear for any emotion more sophisticated than "I am a manchild, and I like being like this".

Miss You Already: two women get on with each other, and don't fight over a man. For Hollywood, this is original. Might be pure schmaltz, might have some actual heart to it; hard to tell.

She's Funny That Way: I don't know what it is about Owen Wilson, but I just find him unwatchable. Combine that with a love polygon directed by Peter Bogdanovich, and this is another film which is aimed at people who aren't me.

Air: now that's a bit more interesting. Post-apocalyptic survival is somewhat out of style, but the lack of really huge names in the cast is a plus point even if the counters don't make a lot of sense. Faintly reminiscent of Hugh Howey's Wool and sequels. I'll be keeping an eye out for this one.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: oh, no, another city's getting blown up. I am so terribly engaged, because no other film does that. The Dark Knight meets the Dark Superman. Zappity zappity zappity, sound and bleedin' fury, signifying as much as it ever did.

Suicide Squad: given all the other things that get changed in comic book films, would it be asking too much to get away from the "mad giggly violent hot babe" stereotype? (In stupidly impractical spike heels, no less.) Clearly it would, because we've got to get those teenage boys in somehow, and apparently hot babes still work even though we have pornography now. Apart from that: macho grunting men trading one-liners and blowing stuff up, my goodness I've never seen that in a film before. And that's meant to be the Joker?

Fantastic Four: yeah, yeah, it's all very pretty, but if you're not already a fan of the characters what does it have to offer? Dubious government overlords, and people fly around and beat each other up. Meh.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: don't ask me, I liked the original. All right, so it's trying to be like the more serious early U.N.C.L.E. seasons rather than the later goofy ones. I can respect that. And it's doing the classic thing where an innocent gets dragged into the villainous machinations (though that looks as though it may just be a setup for the meet-cute). But it's making it an origin story, something the TV series never felt the need to do: so rather than exploring "these are two people who rely absolutely on each other", we have "these are two people who hate each other but must learn to work together", which has been done in film rather more often. OK, it doesn't help impress me when the guys seem to be wearing more eye-shadow than the ladies. Who decided to trust Guy Ritchie with this? It's not about gangsters in London, and that's the only thing he does with any degree of competence.

Sisters: oh, yay, screeching harridans having a party. Just what I wanted to watch. Damn, what did Fey and Poehler do that they were condemned to this?

Pan: very pretty, but does it have any soul? Rooney Mara in the headdress looks like a child dressing up. Garrett Hedlund does a cut-rate Indiana Jones pastiche. Strip off the spectacle and does it have anything left? Maybe, but you'll never find out from the trailer. Wright is known mostly for fairly arty films that win BAFTAs and critics' awards rather than crowd-pleasers; he may be out of his depth here.

Digging For Fire: an impressive cast, but too many of them to fit well into a trailer. Is this going to be another film with lots of talk and no action? Would you like a great big pile of metaphor with your film? I'm getting flashbacks to those drearily "realistic" novels of the 1970s where someone spends the entire book deciding whether to have an affair, and ends up not doing it.

Broken Horses: a modern western that's a remake of a Hindi classic. OK, interesting, and an impressive cast, but very male-focused: it's all about fathers and brothers, and wives seem relatively secondary (after a very promising opening shot). And haven't we kind of done brothers and revenge and stuff? May well appeal to people other than me.

The Gift: nasty person is nasty. I've never really seen the appeal of jump scares. Still, at least it's an original script, not a book adaptation or an ongoing franchise. Will it have anything to say?

Staten Island Summer: 1950s kitchen and family and hairstyles, but set in the present day? Man, Hollywood is getting old now. But anyway, just another story about adolescent boys wanting to get laid. How the girls feel about it is a mystery, because who can possibly understand Girls, right? You just keep pressing levers until you find the one that gives you the treat.

American Ultra: another manchild discovers that he is the Chosen One. Might actually be quite fun, but depends on how quickly they drop the manchild stuff and whether the girlfriend actually gets things to do.

Before We Go: might, just might, be something more than generic rom-com. The leads appear to have something like chemistry, which is surprisingly often absent from these things.

The Good Dinosaur: dinosaurs and humans living together… mass hysteria! The animation seems sadly cheap except for the brief glimpse of rushing water, but this is clearly extruded family-film product, intended to keep the kids quiet for an hour or two, sell some plastic toys (ah, so that's why the protagonist dinosaur looks more like a plastic toy than the others), and then be forgotten. (Are all the other dinosaurs bad dinosaurs?)

Mississippi Grind: petty lowlives have the money, honest. Looks like basically a love story between the leads, only without the whole sex thing (there are interchangeable and anonymous young women for that). Mendelsohn in particular looks as if he might be able to carry this.

Southpaw: is generic boxing movie distinct in itself, or just a subtype of generic sports movie? And do we really care?

Spectre: at this point the James Bond franchise seems to have become an exercise in spot-the-reference. Ooh, New Orleans and dancing skeleton men! But it rather looks as if this series has fallen prey to Doctor Who syndrome: nothing can now happen without being about James Bond. Still, I haven't actually bothered to watch any of the reboot films yet, so I'm certainly not going to start here; I may get to it eventually.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: the third book was the weakest of the trilogy, so I'm assuming there needs to be a lot of pastiche and additional material here, especially as it's been stretched to two films. The first two did a decent enough job of that, so I have hopes for this one. (I don't plan to watch Mockingjay Part 1 until I have Part 2 available.)

Freeheld: Serious Important Film about a Lesbian Dying of Cancer. What, it's not November suddenly is it? Everyone will have forgotten this by Oscar time. (Not my sort of thing, but there are many people who love it.)

We Are Your Friends: a bunch of young men want to be DJs. If I cared about them I might care about the film, but the trailer doesn't bother to invite me to care about them: hey, they're attractive young men who want to get laid, what more do you want?

Experimenter: OK, if you haven't heard of the Milgram experiments you might learn something. Has anyone not heard of the Milgram experiments?

Maze Runner The Scorch Trials: this way to the post-apocalyptic YA dystopia, where the young people are the only ones who can make things better. Meh. Maybe if I'd been pulled in by the first film. Many people were.

Zipper: cynical political thriller, only considering how weak the trailer is with the entire film to pick from the thrills seem to have been left out. As far as I can see we're meant to feel sorry for this guy who's wrecking his career by failing to control his urge to sleep with prostitutes. Why? (And didn't Shame already do the "sex addiction is horrible" thing without needing to have a political plot as well?)

13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi: Michael Bay, and a film about heroic mercenaries fightin' to save 'Murican lives. Bored now.

Sicario: Emily Blunt, action heroine? Yeah, she carried that off in Edge of Tomorrow. The plot looks pretty simplistic though.

Spotlight: crusading newspapermen (remember them?) break the story of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Boston, doing all the legwork themselves rather than (as in real life) mostly publicising the information that had been dug up by other people. I think that releasing Oscar-bait films in the summer is now an admission that they aren't good enough to win Oscars.

The 33: why did it take five years to make a film about the trapped Chilean miners? Because they had to invent a pregnant girlfriend for one of them. Original characterisation like that doesn't happen overnight, you know.

The Night Before: men behaving badly. Oh, yay.

Black Mass: I suppose The Godfather really did set up a new film template. But it's not a template I particularly enjoy. Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch; I wonder if they'll try to out-non-neurotypical each other.

Room: Hard to tell from this, but it looks as if it might be really rather good. (Confused trailers often indicate a film that doesn't readily fit into a standard marketing category.) The plot's given away, but that's pretty much the plot it has to be based on the premise.

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 10:26am on 01 August 2015

    You know, I thought this was going to be about the things you've seen being pulled by other people's cars recently.

    I might do FANTASTIC 4 and MEN FROM UNCLE just so I can get my aging grump mode fed.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:33am on 01 August 2015

    There's so much that feeds one's aging grump mode.

    I think the answer to Hollywood is to make it irrelevant: cheap films made outside the studio system don't have the same pressures towards being unchallenging to the focus-group.

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:14pm on 01 August 2015

    I've never heard of Milgram experiments. I'm pretty sure my parents and brother haven't either.

  4. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 10:00pm on 01 August 2015

    There's a lot there that looks really good – 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Sicario, Spectre, Ant-Man, The Finest Hours, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, even the Fantastic Four trailer looked interesting.

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