Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week’s new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. This week’s nine new trailers include new films from Ang Lee, Tom Tykwer, and the Wachowskis, and feature the likes of Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Halle Berry, Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Isla Fisher, Allison Janney, Oliver Platt, Gerald Butler, and Juno Temple. Check ’em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments.
It’s bad enough that this surf melodrama looks like a fire sale at the cliché outlet: it’s a teacher-student narrative, a surrogate father/abandoned son story, and a chasing-the-big-win sports movie all at once. But you can all but hear the marketers murmuring, “What if people think it’s just about surfing?” So they actually have a character say, out loud, “This is about more than just surfing.” Go on. “It’s about finding that one thing in life that sets you free.” Ugh, blerg, boo. What’s the thing in life that’ll set me free from having to sit through this swill? Because I’m going to go find it.
Jack and Diane
Much to the chagrin of ’80s enthusiasts, this is not a feature film adaptation of the John Cougar Mellencamp song (but admit it: you’d love to see those white gloved hands in widescreen 3D). Bradley Rust Gray’s film, which we saw at Tribeca, is a tale of wistful love between two young women: Jack (Riley Keough) and Diane (Juno Temple, a little bit more recognizable these days thanks to her brief appearance in The Dark Knight Rises). What’s strange about this trailer is how much it contradicts the experience of watching this rather mixed bag of a film; the romantic stuff, which comes off in the trailer as twee and predictable, is actually quite frank and refreshing in the movie itself, while the odd (and fleeting) sci-fi/horror elements, so intriguing here, are nothing but an unsuccessful distraction in the bigger picture. So good luck figuring out if this one’s right for you!
Writer/director Leslye Headland reportedly got the green-light for this matrimonial comedy the Monday after Bridesmaids’ big opening weekend, and you can certainly tell from its trailer, which all but titles the picture Bridesmaids 2. That’s smart marketing, we suppose, but it may very well cause audiences who’d enjoy the film to shrug it off as a Xerox. That’s too bad, because we saw this one at Sundance, and it’s a very different animal; it’s a darker, edgier vision of wedding party unhappiness that seems less inspired by Bridesmaids than something like Eastbound and Down (which shares Bachelorette’s production company, Gary Sanchez Productions, the shingle founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay). Would playing up that angle make it a more successful trailer? Maybe not — they’re going for a wide audience here, and those folks will probably like it too.
Tales of suburban family dysfunction are, it must be said, far from novel these days. What’s got us interested in this one is its stellar cast: Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, and Allison Janney are four of our favorite character actors, we’re always happy to see Alia Shawkrat, we’re not immune to the charms of Mr. Adam Brody, and even Leighton Meester looks like she might be up to something interesting here. It might not be the most original-looking trailer of the week, but we’ll buy a ticket just to watch these people work together.
Man of Steel
Warner Brothers did something really interesting with their teaser trailer for next year’s Superman reboot: they put out two versions, which use the exact same visuals, but are accompanied by completely different voiceovers. One is provided by Kevin Costner, who plays Superman’s earth father Jonathan Kent; the other by Russell Crowe, who plays his Krypton father Jor-El. Both voice-overs work (and play to each actor’s strengths), while the visuals are flat-out remarkable, particularly those glimpses of little Clark (we assume?) in his shoulder-tied cape. However, it was nice of Warners to remind us that this is the work of Zack Snyder (of 300, Watchmen, and the strangely unmentioned — ha ha — Sucker Punch), lest we get our hopes up too high.
Life of Pi
This was apparently the week to debut the trailer for your big, sumptuous visual feast; here’s Ang Lee’s, adapted from Yann Martel’s novel. Lee is a director whose recent filmography has been rather hit and miss (he followed up the masterful Brokeback Mountain with the surprisingly dry Lust, Caution and listless Taking Woodstock) — but when he’s got the right material, he can work wonders with it, and this lush epic could well be the Crouching Tiger-esque marriage of visual grandeur and emotional storytelling that we’ve been waiting for.
Middle of Nowhere
In the midst of all of this week’s majestic visions, here’s a small, intimate picture that looks completely involving. Ava DuVurnay won Best Director at Sundance for this drama about a young woman who can’t let go of her incarcerated man; we didn’t get to see it there, but this simple yet compelling trailer has certainly piqued our interest.
Well, looks like we made our montage of the most beautiful shots in movies a couple of months too early, because here’s a new film from Ron Fricke (who directed Baraka and shot Koyaanisqatsi, both of which were — to put it mildly — well-represented in that video essay). And after getting a peek at his latest, well, our jaws are still on the floor. It looks like an entirely worthy follow-up to Baraka, and that’s about the highest praise we can bestow upon this one.
When we do these little trailer roundups every week, we try our best to dig deep into what we see, to analyze the marketing strategies at play, to extrapolate the potential quality of the product based on who is involved, to look for tells and red flags among the explosions and mayhem. And we could say quite a bit about this five-plus minute look at the film adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel, adapted for the screen and directed by the trio of Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run): about its multiple employments of its all-star cast, about the connective tissue of stories retold and tales interwoven, about its clear sense of ambition (and thus risk of folly). But sometimes, when you’re looking at a trailer for a movie like this, it boils down to one simple truth: Cloud Atlas looks big and epic and bold and grand and awesome, the end.