RogerBW's Blog

December 2015 Trailers 01 January 2016

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

I Saw the Light: looks as if it isn't going to over-glamorise its subject, which is good. Hank Williams' grandson has complained about Tom Hiddleston not being "Southern" enough, which is better (when a family member approves of a biographical film that almost always means it's only telling one person's side of things). Is Hiddleston's face too distinctive to let him sink into the role? That's my only potential problem with this.

Batman v Superman: not in the target market, and this film will succeed wildly off that market whatever I or anyone else says about it. It's the standard superhero crossover plot, summed up conveniently in the trailer: they fight, then they team up against something bigger. Well, if that's what people want I hope they're happy.

Exposed: cop investigates dead corrupt partner. "But somebody knows something." Will it come down "cop protects cute young woman from all the criminals in the city" or will it try to be less predictable than that?

The Nice Guys: another seventies flashback, and the bad guy has to work for the good guys for once. Seems heavily inspired by American Hustle. Maybe it's because I don't have nostalgia for the 1970s.

Mojave: whereas this looks much more interesting, even though it's another piece about Terribly Manly Men being Terribly Manly. Even so, #wherearethewomen?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Sword of Destiny: the worst thing about this is that it's a sequel to a film that really didn't need a sequel. Otherwise? Yeah, I'm all over this like blood on drifting autumn leaves in the golden sunlight of late afternoon.

The BFG: will probably appeal more to people who love the book; as I don't know the book at all, it looks to me like a mess of overused clichés. They probably weren't quite as clichéd when the book came out in 1982!

The Legend of Tarzan: hmm, clearly Edgar Rice Burroughs isn't considered box-office poison in spite of John Carter. All right, what can you say about this story which hasn't been said dozens of times before? This trailer isn't going to tell us.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Out of the Shadows: "you didn't come here for the hunting, did you?" - or to put it another way, the first film was an utter disaster by every measure except money, where it took in $500e6 on a $125e6 budget. The interesting thing to me is how much it looks like the modern superhero film, particularly that opening disaster sequence. Eh, whoever the people were who saw the first film, they'll go and see this one.

X-Men - Apocalypse: I can't reasonably object to films that build on previous films. Serial storytelling is no bad thing. But I've fallen behind by one, two, three, ten films, and I have no idea who most of these people are; I see a quick shot of what's obviously a recognisable costume, and that's obviously something I'm supposed to be excited about. Which means that a chunk of the designed appeal of this film is lost on me, and I'm not really a superhero fan anyway.

Anesthesia: what a trailer tries to do is to show the audience how this film is just like all other films of its type, no disturbing surprises. What I want from a trailer is to be shown why this film is different from other films of its type. This might be as generic as it looks here, or it might be great, and I have no way of telling.

Independence Day - Resurgence: after I compensate for my detestation of unnecessary sequels, I see somethng that looks much more like X-COM, with the primary emphasis on close-up sapient-to-sapient action rather than vehicular mayhem. It does seem to be consciously admitting that the old film existed (and you should watch it on Netflix!) rather than rebooting the entire setup, which I do find positive; without that call-back, it's just another alien invasion.

Captain America - Civil War: in passing as I mentioned this last month, but I think this Japanese trailer does a much better job of pointing out the personal conflicts that provide a reason for all the fighting.

Diablo: oh, OK, not the video game but another gritty Western. Another woman-as-reward plot, and an Eastwood in the leading role, but apparently this is meant to be taken seriously.

Star Trek Beyond: Justin Lin. They got the hack who drove The Fast and the Furious even further into the ground than it had been already, to direct Star Trek. And yeah, this pretty much looks like a Fast and Furious film sci-fied up a bit, though with fewer bikini babes. Clearly there is an audience for all-action, because that's what every other sci-fi film does; I'll admit to a slight nostalgia for when Star Trek and Star Wars represented different approaches to science fiction.

High-Rise: now that's what I want a trailer to do: be a miniature film in itself, that makes me want to see the thing it's pushing but without giving away plot details, and without spending all its time saying "this is a film of genre X, you like genre X, you will like this film which is just like all the others".

Kung Fu Panda 3: the Magnificent One, and green glowing energy is always evil. I know quite a few people who love this series, so maybe I'm missing something; this makes it look very heavy-handed.

Eddie the Eagle: I could happily go the rest of my life without seeing the standardised way that Hollywood films visually mark someone as a loser. I suppose there might be some humour in using all the clichéd tropes of a sports film (about an underdog who achieves a stunning victory) in a film about an underdog who in fact achieved a stunning failure, but is that enough to sustain the viewer's interest for ninety-odd minutes?

Misconduct: yeah, right, she seduced him – and that makes him completely innocent and her entirely responsible for everything that goes wrong in his life thereafter. Isn't there a line about the number of people it takes to tango? Otherwise, let's wheel out Pacino and Hopkins to remind the viewers what real acting is like.

Storks: from the writer of The Five-Year Engagement and Sex Tape. So I won't bother. I do like this format for a trailer, though.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: if it can resist the urge to stereotyping and just let its cast do what they're good at, this could be very good indeed. It might even be an honest portrayal of situations where you've got to laugh, or you'll cry.

Yosemite: oh my goodness, a hymn to the wonderfulness of middle-class white American boyhood. I have never seen one of those before.

Elstree 1976: Ten people who had minor roles in Star Wars, and how they feel about it forty years later. Interesting enough idea, I suppose, but being an antisocial sort of person I'm not particularly grabbed just by that. If they turn out to have particular responses in common, that might be interesting.

Everybody Wants Some: clearly there is such high demand for films about boys trying to get laid that we need to mine the past to produce enough of them. (Lots of Eighties music is cheap to licence these days.)

Desierto: looks lovely, but is it just another survival horror film? I'd really hope for something more from these people.

A Perfect Day: eh, maybe. Especially if Olga Kurylenko turns out to be able to play more than Generic Hawt Babe #3.

Lazer Team: spare me yet more dudebro comedy.

Only Yesterday: I'm a Ghibli completist so of course I've seen this already. I'm generally a fan of Takahata's work and I think this is one of his best.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:11pm on 01 January 2016

    I saw the new Star Wars earlier this week (it's OKish, but misses the mark a bit to my mind). What really struck me, and my mum said it too, was how all the trailers left me completely cold and with no desire to see any of the films they were for.

    I also preferred it when Star Wars and Star Trek had substantially different takes on Sci Fi. Perhaps sharing a director wasn't a good idea (but getting rid of George Lucas clearly was).

    And I freely admit I saw the original Ninja Turtles film at the cinema. In my defence, my girlfriend at the time wanted to see it.

  2. Posted by Dr Bob at 01:16pm on 01 January 2016

    Was that a glimpse of the Lost City of Opar in the Tarzan trailer? Perhaps their doing an "everyone knows the origin story, so let's fast forward to another book in the series"?

    There's BBC Natural History Unit footage in that movie somewhere. The movie bought it to green screen their actors against and save them the cost of another shoot in Africa.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 01:19pm on 01 January 2016

    I was being unclear: this is a sequel to the recent (2014) Turtles film. I don't know anyone who admitted to having seen it, but evidently people did.

    I think most people I know aren't in the target audience for trailers.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 01:21pm on 01 January 2016

    Getting away from generic Tarzan would be great, but current Hollywood loves origin stories and reboots even for iconic heroes, because then people won't think "oh, there's so much stuff I have to catch up on before I can enjoy this". (Which to be fair is the feeling I get on the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.)

  5. Posted by Owen Smith at 04:52pm on 01 January 2016

    Only one trailer has ever really grabbed me and made me desparate to see the film. I was working at iMagicTV at the time (so 10 to 15 years ago) and we got various mpeg files to play over our network to see how the set top boxes handled them over IP. One day I got a file with a note saying "this one really consumes network bandwidth, what can we do about it?". I was mesmerised, it was the trailer for Hero months before it was even released to cinemas for showing as a trailer. The network bandwidth question was easy, it's a high quality gorgeous high bit rate clip so of course it hammers the network.

  6. Posted by Michael Cule at 05:22pm on 01 January 2016

    I wonder if you could write a superhero movie which didn't bother with all that backstory stuff but just drops you into the middle of someone's life with all the tropes, antagonists and allies already established and just dared you to complain.

    Probably better as a TV series.

  7. Posted by RogerBW at 05:29pm on 01 January 2016

    I suspect it would work if the character were compelling enough, but scriptwriters love stories about transition, so a hero who comes out of the film pretty much as he went in would be a hard sell.

  8. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 04:53pm on 02 January 2016

    There are several films on your list that I want to see: Tarzan for one; just for Alexander Skarsgård for a start and Samuel L. Jackson. It will either be great or trash but either way Alexander Skarsgård half naked does it for me.

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