It’s getting to be that time of year. We’re two months out from the first of the summer movie releases, and the fall/winter award bait is starting to surface, so trailers are coming hot and heavy. It feels like a nice time to take a look at what’s garnering buzz recently in the ole trailer park. Here are a few new trailers that have everyone talking.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
You have to give Fox a lot of credit for setting up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with a big, gutsy marketing campaign. This is probably the riskiest of the major releases in summer 2012, and Fox is acting like they have a sure-fire hit on their hands. The book is a best seller, which doesn’t hurt, but the overall concept is quite esoteric and sometimes what works in a book doesn’t work on film. However, judging solely from the trailer, it looks like director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) has nailed the tone of the book and turned it into something dark and cool. This is a summer that looks ripe for an upset at the box office (I mean, not against The Dark Knight Rises, nothing and no one is taking that down as #1), and I kind of think Abraham Lincoln might be a surprise blockbuster.
This looks so dumb, right? Like, so, soooooo dumb. But yet…it also looks fun. Fun in the way that only super dumb summer movies can be. The new Battleship trailer took me by surprise because it actually made me want to see this silly movie. Based on the shockingly warm reception to the new trailer, Universal has raised their projections and it looks like they might really have a Transformers-level hit on their hands. Of course, I’m notoriously awful at box office predictions, so maybe I should apologize to Universal right now for tanking their chances.
I think the most important question I have after seeing this trailer is whether or not Taylor Kitsch takes his shirt off.
I understand that many of you (most of you?) are sick to death of Johnny Depp and his weird characters with all the makeup and the costumes and why can’t he just be normal, for once? Ditto for Tim Burton and his eccentric, creepy films. I get that, but here’s my question to you: When has Johnny Depp ever been the normal guy? When has Tim Burton ever made a straightforward film? The closest Burton got to the mainstream was Big Fish, and even that relied heavily on magical realism. As for Depp, it would be, what, Chocolat? I’m just saying these are two guys who make their living on weird and obscure. I understand if you’re just tired of it, in general, but let’s not act like they were ever normal.
This movie might be a huge mess. The tone of the trailer is inconsistent. Between the title and the plot—Depp plays a cursed vampire trying to reclaim his home and restore his lost love—I think people were expecting a rather serious, dark movie. Instead what we’ve got is something that looks quite campy and silly and retro (it’s based on a 1960’s soap opera). But through the clutter there are glimpses of something sharp and darkly comic, which is precisely the combination that defines Beetlejuice, Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd—three of Burton’s best films. Probably Dark Shadows is a disaster waiting to happen, what with the Burton/Depp fatigue and all, but when they’re given free rein to indulge the oddest of their impulses, Burton/Depp can really deliver. It’ll be interesting to see which side Dark Shadows comes down on.
On the Road
Walter Salles took his sweet time putting together this adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic beat novel, and from the first trailer, it definitely looks worth the wait. I’m especially into Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee (the William Burroughs stand-in) and the jazzy score fragments. I’m on the record worrying about the adaptability of On the Road, but as I said originally, if anyone could make sense of a difficult, syncopated text like Kerouac’s, it would Salles. It would appear he has succeeded in at least crafting something interesting-looking with On the Road.
By virtue of being Salles’ first feature film in four years—and his first English-language film in seven—On the Road is getting a huge amount of attention. Of course it’s Kerouac, of course the cast is stocked with talent including Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Mortensen, Amy Adams and Kirsten Dunst, but the real star in any Walter Salles film is Walter Salles. He trumps everything else. And chill before you yell at me for forsaking my girl KStew. I’m excited for her to be in this, but that’s the deal you accept when you go into a Walter Salles film. It’s like working with Terrence Malick or Christopher Nolan or Woody Allen—the actor is not the most important piece, the director and his vision are. I expect to see this on the Croisette at Cannes, and later, in serious contention for award season. Because it’s Walter Salles. And that’s all that matters.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Because once again, this is a super funny movie that everyone should go see.
I’m trying to get into this, I really am, because I like everyone involved—The Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce—but I’m not that into sci-fi in general and I have no strong attachment to the original Alien, specifically. But I get that I’m in the minority in my disinterest and the way things stand now, this looks like the clearest challenger to The Dark Knight Rises’ assumed #1 position as top of the box office for the summer. I do think Prometheus will be big, I’m just not particularly interested in it myself.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Universal has had a hard run the last few years, but between Battleship and this, summer 2012 is shaping up nicely for them. The new trailer was just released (along with a five minute feature reel, which you can see here) and it looks GREAT. Commercials director Rupert Sanders is making his feature film debut and he looks like the genuine article. Even in two minute increments, the visuals look amazing. When the first trailer for the cutely nick-named SWATH debuted last fall, everyone was all, “OMG, Kristen Stewart is barely in it!” and I was like, “Chill, they’re going to release a Snow-centric trailer later.” And here it is, the Snow-centric trailer. I like how they’re setting up the idea that Snow’s power and beauty derives from her innate goodness—I prefer that to a straight up “I’m prettier than you” bitch off. I recently re-read the Grimm Snow White and it’s all about the destructive nature of vanity, so I really hope they play that angle in SWATH. So far, it looks like that’s where they’re headed. I’m into it.