Friday, 29 June 2012

10 Trailers Which Caught My Eye

Trailers are a huge part of the movie industry and, as a form of advertising, can make or break the commercial future of a movie. With a good trailer a bad movie can do pretty well, with a poor trailer even a great movie can be financially disappointing at the box office. I strongly believe that you can't accurately judge a movie by it's trailer, after all they only show you exciting and eye catching footage out of context. But I also believe they are more than just the cover of a book; trailers show you glimpses of acting quality, plot structure and a general feel of the movie's atmosphere.

There are plenty of movie trailers which have caught my attention this year, for various reasons. Here are 10 trailers which caught my eye in a positive way-

1. The Master

The combination of director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Magnolia) and actor Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Walk The Line) is enough to send shivers down the spine of any movie buff. Both are very talented artists that have shown that they can be amongst the best in their respective fields.
The Master is set in the 1950s and charts the rise of a faith based organisation in America (which is likely to have comparisons with Scientology). Phoenix's childish giggling, combined with his eerie stare and the repetitive, tribal background music makes this teaser trailer incredibly ominous and exciting. 

2. Django Unchained

I was a little bit disappointed when I found out about the plot of Quentin Tarantino's latest movie. It's a revenge movie closely linked to a very painful period in history, in which one ethnic group were mistreated by another - sound familiar? That being said, Inglourious Basterds is the best movie Tarrantino had made since Pulp Fiction and this also features the fantastic 'Jew Hunter' himself, Christoph Waltz - so I'm now excited.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

I don't think I need to say a lot here, I just really liked the latest trailer. I can't wait to see how Tom Hardy does as the new central villain. The Joker was the antithesis of Batman, posing an intellectual and moral challenge; Bane will be Batman's biggest ever physical challenge, a force to be reckoned with (and if the comics are anything to go by, Batman is in for a very painful ride).

4. The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann, director of Romeo + Juliet, teams up again with Leonardo DiCaprio in this envisioning of an American classic. The styling of the movie looks great; everything looks authentic and Leonardo DiCaprio is at the perfect point in his career for the role of Gatsby. It will also be interesting to see if Carey Mulligan can keep up her amazing streak of movie choices/performances and if Toby Maguire can get properly back on the horse after the Spider-man trilogy...which was just awful.

5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Again, not much to say here. I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit is a great book and judging from production blog videos on youtube, they are putting an incredible amount of effort into developing this.  There was some criticism at a preview screening regarding it's 48 FPS frame rate - apparently it looked too realistic and clear cut. Doesn't really sound like a criticism to me but I guess it may lack a certain cinematic feel. I personally can't wait to see how Peter Jackson does with this chapter of Middle Earth's history (particularly with my favourite chapter from The Hobbit, Riddles in the Dark).

6. Taken 2

Taken really surprised me when I first watched it; I was expecting a mindless action movie but Liam Neeson's performance elevated it to something more (along with plenty of great action sequences). I think part of its success was also the clever and resourceful ways in which Neeson's character would outsmart (and beat the crap out of) the unscrupulous bad guys. In Unknown he had an equally physical role but it didn't quite work as well. I hope that Taken 2 has that same special quality that the first one had.

7. The Bourne Legacy

I dreaded this movie when I first heard of it's production. I love the Bourne trilogy, it's rare in the fact that it's  both exciting and cerebral in equal measure. I really didn't think following it up with another Bourne movie was a good idea - especially one without Jason Bourne in it! But after seeing this trailer and the effort that has been taken to integrate it into the canon of the original trilogy, I'm now quite excited. The addition of Edward Norton to the cast is also a huge bonus.

8. Brave

Pixar creates an incredible amount of quality animated movies and this one certainly doesn't look like an exception. Brave appears to be along the lines of a Celtic Mulan and could possibly be up there with the likes of Up, The Incredibles and Wall-E. It features an all Scottish cast, including the 'Big Yin' himself Billy Connolly. Should be great.

9. Total Recall

I'm a pretty big fan of the brutal, Paul Verhoeven original (even with the incredibly dated special effects and over-egged acting). The general concept is based on the short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, written by the brilliant and prophetic Phillip K Dick. There are some very big differences between this version and the original, the main one being that none of it is set on Mars. But before you panic, don't worry it still has that prostitute with three boobs in it. Also, Brian Cranston will be playing the role of Cohaagen, which is a very exciting prospect.

10. Looper

I really like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and in Inception he showed that he was capable of high octane action as well as small indie movie rolls. This movie's concept is interesting, although time travel is a dangerous plot device and often leads to paradoxes and things that don't technically make sense (often forcing the audience to suspend their disbelief). I hope it's done well and I also hope that it explains why future gangsters go to the trouble of sending people back in time to be shot (thereby also changing the future), when they could quite easy kill people themselves.

There you are, 10 trailers which caught my eye. There were plenty which I missed out, feel free to comment below and let me know which movies you're looking forwards to. I'll be writing some short reviews of Snow White and the Huntsman and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter soon!

Friday, 15 June 2012


I saw Prometheus pretty much as soon as it came out, I could hardly contain my excitement for several main reasons. The first being that it was directed by Ridley Scott, the creator of certain movies which are nothing short of special -  Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Rain and Alien (loosely related to this movie) to name a few. The second element of my excitement was the genre and aesthetic of Prometheus - a slick and profound science fiction movie which explores broad ideas relating to the human condition, exploration and the notion of a higher power. The final reason was the tantalising viral marketing campaign ("Happy Birthday David") which worked a treat on me and made the sci-fi fan within squirm with a heightened sense of anticipation. 

The response to Prometheus was somewhat mixed, generally varying from two star to five star reviews. Many people went into the cinema expecting Alien 5 - a gory and thrilling science fiction horror that would have people watching intently from between clasped fingers, popcorn being flung into the air every time there's a jumpy part. As a result many were left confused and disappointed by what Prometheus actually turned out to be. I didn't make the same mistake. As previously mentioned, I knew what Ridley Scott and the screenwriters intended to create and in many interviews they stated quite clearly that this would be an all together more cerebral experience and not an Alien prequel.

That being said, I was significantly disappointed by this movie. 

I'll start with the positives. The cast were great in their respective roles - particularly Michael Fassbender who stole the show as David, the polite and well spoken synthetic human with a devious Machiavellian streak (very much in the tradition of Ash and Bishop from the Alien quadrilogy). Fassbender's career has really taken off and he's demonstrated a fantastic range and charisma in recent roles (I will soon be reviewing Shame, the second collaboration between director Steve McQueen and Fassbender). I thought Noomi Rapace was enthralling as the central character Shaw, a religious scientist hoping to meet her maker and find some answers. Shaw is a strong female heroin, not as much through violence like Ripley, but through conviction. I think the dynamic of a scientist with religious faith is incredibly interesting and the internal turmoil that this creates at times is great to watch. I personally also liked Idris Elba as Captain Janek. His Southern drawl and odd one-liner added a comedic element to the movie. 

Prometheus was also very easy on the eyes. The set pieces were stunning and Scott's combination of CGI and old school special effects really worked well. It didn't have that artificial feeling that completely CGI movies usually have, where things look great but they don't look real. The combination of the ship's cold, technological minimalism and the rugged, ancient feel of LV-223 contrasted brilliantly as well. The only visual issue for me was the make up used to make Guy Pearce look like an elderly Peter Weyland. It was so bad it was laughable and it just made me wonder why Scott didn't use an elderly male actor.

There was one main thing that I didn't like about this movie - unfortunately that thing was the plot. I wont mention anything specific from the movie but needless to say, the plot should be the engine which drives a movie forwards and give it momentum and zeal. Unfortunately this movie was somewhat schizophrenic and couldn't quite make it's mind up about where it was going. One moment it would feel like it was heading down an interesting and thought provoking route, then all of a sudden it would trail off and descend into misplaced science fiction action/horror (never quite doing either well). Furthermore, at certain points in this movie certain characters suddenly lose all intelligence and do the most ridiculous things, putting peoples lives at obvious risk in order to push the plot along. It becomes harder to care about a character's life when they obviously don't. 

Because of all of these higgledy-piggledy and unnecessary parts of the movie, the central questions which are broached upon earlier are barely discussed. This leaves the movie feeling shallow and rushed. I don't like to be spoon fed a movie, but the amount of unanswered questions in Prometheus is nothing short of frustrating (hence the mixed  reviews which it has attracted). One of the writers, Damon Lindelof, wrote for Lost - maybe that's why there are so many questions with absolutely no answers. Scott has shown interest in making it part of a trilogy and it often does feel like Prometheus was designed in order to introduce something else and not stand alone. Unfortunately, this movie didn't live up to the promise of the viral marketing used to promote it. Case in point - 

Nowhere near it's potential but worth watching for the performances and visual effects.