RogerBW's Blog

August 2015 Trailers 01 September 2015

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

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet: a Disneyesque Incredible Journey, only the cute animal is a young boy? Adapted from a book thought to be un-adaptable, and they may have been right.

Some Kind Of Beautiful (later retitled Lessons in Love): tries to look like something more than a romantic comedy, and may even succeed. If it manages to continue not quite to fit in the standard pigeonholes, there might be something to it. (Though obviously a 64-year-old man can't be paired with women anywhere near his own age. That would just be perverse.)

The Dressmaker: Tamara Drewe in rural Australia? Might be amusing, but Kate Winslet can play a role like this in her sleep, and looks as though she is.

The Intern: golly, old people might have something to contribute to the corporate machine too! Retirement, what's that? De Niro plays a smiling codger. Yay.

Norm of the North: a cute fuzzy polar bear must Save The Arctic. Disposable kidvid.

Stonewall: of course you can't tell a historical story without having a made-up character for the audience to sympathise with. (Because last year's film Selma never happened.) Does a decent job of describing "where Pride began", by focusing entirely on pretty young gay white men just as the modern event tends to.

Deadpool: yay, Ryan Reynolds is wheeled out to destroy another superhero, after his excellent work caused everyone to lose interest in Green Lantern back in 2011. And guess what, it's another lovable schmuck who gets superpowers. Gee, I haven't seen a trailer with that story since, ooh, last month.

Everest: mountain-climbing action has developed its own set of cliché shots at this point. Huge expensive cast, and for what? Looks as if basically the entire plot is in the trailer anyway.

Solace: might be generic horror, but looks potentially more interesting than that. Yes, all right, Anthony Hopkins helps, but the rest of the cast is solid too, and the challenge of how to tackle someone who can precog just what you're going to do is an interesting one. Might even be good.

The Last Witch Hunter: hang on, you're sure Nic Cage isn't in this? OK, lots of pretty effects, and Michael Caine will be giving it the full Michael Caine as he always does, but this was going to be directed by Bekmambetov, it's just his sort of gonzo supernatural nuttery, and he was replaced by someone who hasn't made a film since 2010's very forgettable The Crazies. Sound and fury.

Visions: secret creepy suburban witchcraft? Great! But what's the betting that our heroine's complaints will be ignored because she has Crazy Pregnancy Hormones? Those women, you know, always making stuff up. I'm dubious about this one but could be persuaded.

Hitman Agent 47: industrial slaughter. Isn't this basically Bourne with more undercranking? Doesn't really grab me.

About Ray: transgender is the new homosexual? I suppose it's a good or at least a necessary thing that stories are told about the transition. Maybe it won't take as long before we get stories where transgender people are just part of the world.

By The Sea: pretty people hate each other. Woo.

Jem and the Holograms: you can get famous, but Fame is Hard. Who knew? With bonus cute robot. Because everyone was crying out for a revival of the 1980s doll-peddling cartoon series.

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List: teenage D'Rama. Nothing here appeals. Bland film is sometimes worse than bad film. (Actually, bad film these days tends to be blanded down so that you can't even enjoy it as bad any more.)

Addicted to Fresno: Bridesmaids made money, so here are more women behaving badly.

Trumbo: authority is bad, kids! Eh, too one-sided: let's have some nice authoritarians and some nasty radicals, rather than Our Side Good Their Side Bad, or you're just being part of the problem.

Wolf Totem: a boy and his dog, in the Cultural Revolution. But does it have anything to offer apart from the stunning Chinese setting (and cheap extras for the crowd scenes)?

Life: the young James Dean's struggle to Be Recognised. Um, I guess? The trailer's bitty, so maybe there's a real film under all this flim-flam.

Ride Along 2: tee hee, the big fat man has a high-pitched voice. Oh, my aching sides. What's our artistic motivation? The last one made money. Need a script? Nah, we've got a generic eighties cop thriller, we'll just throw these improv guys at it.

Shanghai: John Cusack's taking a lot of Chinese cash these days. Might be interesting, but looks kind of overblown, especially with what seems distressingly likely to turn into a love triangle.

The Anomaly: cheap-looking SF conspiracy action. I don't know the cast; this might be amusing if they get away from the generic-looking script.

Victor Frankenstein: well, yes, if you move the story from a remote castle to London, you're going to get attention from the police. But it looks as though this is stripping out all the interesting stuff and turning the monster into something that juat goes "rar" and kills you. Oh well. (Also: where are the women?)

The Martian: I quite liked the book and this certainly looks good. Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) wrote the screenplay as planned, but Ridley Scott is now directing. That could be good or bad, depending on whether he's on form; the last space film he did was Prometheus, after all.

The Witch: early American settler horror. Looks fairly reliant on standard scares; the bit with the baby is decent, but could have happened in the modern day. What justifies the period?

The Final Girls: oh, that looks really quite interesting. Better if the actual Final Girls can be the stars of their own film rather than generic comic relief guy, but this still seems to have some promise.

Bill: just in case you didn't laugh enough at Anonymous, here's one that's meant to be funny. As long as there's good stuff along with the slapstick, could be decent.

Ashby: yet another generic useless young man learns Valuable Lessons About Life. This time his Magical Negro is a retired CIA assassin. Eh, might be fun, but probably not.

Carol: yes, yes, terribly arty, but wot do it do Molesworth wot purpose hav it?

Kill Your Friends: even more horrible people doing horrible things to each other, with bonus women as set dressing. The music industry is nasty, who knew?

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: promising title, but it turns out that "scouts" in Hollywood-speak means "podgy un-lovable losers". I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but the supposed humour of the premise leaves me cold.

En Equilibre: a very generic-looking story, but a decent cast might salvage it.

Love the Coopers: didn't National Lampoon do this years ago? Only with a smaller cast so that everyone got enough time for their own story arc.

Youth: looks as if it's trying to be Oscar-bait. Will it have anything to say, or just a succession of Trailer Moments?

A Brilliant Young Mind: Hollywood is very bad at depicting smart people (most scriptwriters have never met one, after all), so it always comes back to "they're just like us mostly". Weirdo people who can do sums can find love too, just like their (divorced/widowed) moms, so that's all right then. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard.

He Named Me Malala: it's an impressive story, but this part of it seems to strip out any possible dramatic tension.

Risen: Christian™-brand filmmaking at its biggest budget and, to be fair, some of the better acting I've seen in these things. Though that's not saying much. With bonus un-biblical miracles!

Rock the Kasbah: doesn't matter where they're American or Afghan, what women really need is a much older man to "represent" them.

See also:
The Martian, Andy Weir

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 11:51pm on 01 September 2015

    Gosh, you have saved me from having to watch any of these! (Not that I was going to anyway.) Of the last lot I only watched THE MAN FROM UNCLE.

    Why do you watch so many trailers? Is it one of the things you get when you pay for NETFLIX or something?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 09:05am on 02 September 2015

    I try to emphasise the positive, but when it's clearly Extruded Movie Product that can be a bit of a challenge.

    I watch the trailers because I'm interested in film, and just occasionally there's something that really appeals to me (The Martian this time round, and Solace, Visions and The Anomaly also look potentially interesting). There are three or four youtube channels which collectively carry most of the vaguely mainstream trailers which get released.

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