Now that the 8,000 trailers of Mad Max are reaching their conclusion, we need something new. It has to be visually bold and it has to promise a momentous film experience. It has to give us movie trailers that are better experiences than some whole films. Well, I know the big news is the Jem and the Holograms trailer. You’re going to be shocked to find out that’s not what I’m talking about, though I will tell you what I think of it further down. But first, Guillermo del Toro’s going to have to fill that Mad Max-sized gap in your fanboy and fangirl hearts.
Holy. Mother. Of. God. The original teaser for Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak looked visually stunning but gave little clue to the plot. This new trailer is a masterpiece. By relying on quick cutting, it offers leads into the structure of the plot without actually revealing much story. This reflects Spanish and Latin-American horror very well. You’ll often think you have a vague clue what’s happening, but that sense of direction will be spun on its head – often in a very emotional way – by the end of the film. A two-minute-plus trailer that relies exclusively on quick editing can get very annoying – you need an anchor, and that’s where the musical score comes in. Building a pulsing rhythm that’s reliable allows one of our senses to remain grounded while we’re visually yanked around. Del Toro has said this will be a much more straightforward horror movie than he usually makes, but for Del Toro that still leaves a lot of room. Look, just watch it. You can thank me later.
Nancy Meyers makes reassuring comedies that rely on strong characterization. Do we have any idea what the plot is? Robert De Niro becomes Anne Hathaway’s intern. That’s pretty much it – instead, we focus on the characters – Ben and Jules. That’s all we really need when it comes to actors of their caliber. This is also an example that a comedy trailer doesn’t need to make you laugh out loud – sometimes, movie trailers that make you smile are actually more effective at teasing the experience. Trailers with a lot of laughs often feel like they crammed everything funny into the two minutes and there’s nothing left. Trailers that make you smile convince you that you’ll be smiling for two hours in the theater. People will tend to opt for smiling for two hours over laughing for two minutes.
Only one line rides on me: I could do without the Millennial bashing. I’ve made my voice known on the subject, but this line is egregiously bad on a couple of fronts: “How, in one generation, have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to…?” Jules trails off and stares intently at three schlubs at the bar. Well, Harrison Ford’s on his third wife and Jack Nicholson has had children by four women, so I’m pretty sure what happened is this: child support. One of the young actors this line is directed at is Adam DeVine. He was hit by a cement truck when he was 11 and spent two years re-learning how to walk. I’d sooner take him as my role model, thank you very much.
This isn’t perfect – it returns to scenes shown earlier in the trailer once too often, creating a bit of chronological dissonance as we watch. I can’t blame them too much when you want to feature as much Kevin Durand in your trailer as possible. He is a very watchable actor, his eyes seem to pop out of the screen, and he’s one of the only tolerable parts of the vampire series The Strain. One smart move is never showing the monster here – I’m always puzzled when horror trailers go out of their way to show a scare. If it’s supposed to be a giant reveal in the film itself, why would you show it in the two-minute trailer? If anything, that tactic removes a potential scare from the film. Think of it along the same lines as The Intern above, but with fright instead of humor – we’d rather have two hours of being creeped out than two minutes of jumping in our seats.
Instead, Dark Was the Night does something clever, using the title inserts in between scenes to feature an evolving symbol that looks like roots or plants. It suggests the nature of the monster via these title inserts without ever showing it, which forces us to begin picturing what it looks like in our heads. That creates more anticipation than having it pop out of the shadows at us.
Wait, didn’t that come out 13 years ago? Yes. This is the TV show. I wrote about it and four other supernatural shows a little while back, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that Fox has spent a lot of time and money organizing this show. Networks typically have a philosophy of throwing new series at the wall and seeing what sticks. Fox has been taking a different tack recently with series like Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and the now-canceled The Following. They’ve been developing shows at length, focusing on polished production elements that occasionally rival AMC, HBO, and Showtime. They’re still developing how the technique can be implemented in a network like theirs. Minority Report is the show they’ve taken the most time on and put the most effort into getting right. It’s their moon shot as far as this approach goes and the first preview is looking incredibly good.
I’m constantly struck by how trustworthy Juliette Lewis is in EVERY MOVIE. I’d totally leave my kid with her. I don’t even have a kid. Anyone have a kid? I just want to leave it with Juliette Lewis for a while. OK, so the Internet tells me that the Jem and the Holograms trailer isn’t very faithful to its source. I’ve never seen the original show, so I can’t judge it on those merits. What I can judge it as is a two hour version of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” and on those merits, it’s looking pretty faithful.
In all seriousness, I don’t read this trailer as terrible. It may reveal the whole plot, but I’m also trying to think of any other movie trailers that feature more than 40 lines for women and only 7 for men. Ensembles that feature 7 women and only 2 men barely exist in Hollywood. That all but guarantees me a unique experience as a viewer. That’s what I’m after more than anything else – unique experiences. These can make an average film good and a good film great, so even if Jem and the Holograms is a bad movie, it could be a bad movie more worth seeing than a lot of good ones.
Billy Bob Thornton vs. Bears. I’m in. It doesn’t matter if your movie looks like unrealistic schlock and you’re essentially treating bears like velociraptors. It doesn’t matter if your effects are so bad you can’t even bear (see what I did there?) to put them in the trailer for longer than a millisecond at a time. You had me at Billy Bob Thornton vs. Bears. This is for the so bad it’s good crowd out there:
It is painful to watch so many good actors deliver high energy performances in what’s got to be one of the more disastrous trailers I’ve seen this year. Making fun of people with physical and mental issues? Check. Making Jessica Biel act like Rob Schneider? Check. Jake Gyllenhaal as a congressman made up to look like he’s 12? Check. Actually, there’s a reason for that last one. Accidental Love is the “latest” film from David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). So why does it look so godawful? Because it started filming in 2008 and Russell abandoned it halfway through, in 2010. It’s been in turnaround ever since, and Russell even uses a fake name in the credits as a way of disowning the film. That’s always a good sign.