Did you know they actually show some football on Superbowl Sunday between the ads? I know… I was shocked, too.
Right now, we’re making it easy for you to forget by embedding all of the movie ads on a special page here at HitFix, and as we do, I’ll be commenting on the trailers and the films they’re selling.
First up was “G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra,” or as I like to call it, “Team America, Fuck Yeah: The Movie.” This film looks stone-cold ridiculous, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one at all based on the track record of director Stephen Sommers. I have no nostalgic connection to the toy commercial/cartoon of the ’80s, and there’s nothing about the concept that inherently attracts me, so all I can judge is the footage itself. My prediction? It’ll be slick. It’ll be silly. And unlike “Transformers,” which had the benefit of Giant F’ing Robots to sell it to non-fans, I don’t see this as being a zeitgeist moment for Paramount. In fact, I think we’re probably two years too late for a giant paramilitary might-makes-right movie to really resonate. We’ve turned a cultural corner, and I think this sort of movie, where enough firepower can solve any international problem, might be exactly not what the audience wants right now. The hardcore online nerd audience has been Tweeting frantically about this one since last night, but I’m not convinced that’ll cross over to the general public. Not at all.
“Star Trek” looks reeeeeally good. The trailer’s a little frantic, but I understand trying to sell as many money shots as possible to show that this is not a TV movie. Even the biggest of the prior theatrical films was always hampered by a near-TV budget, and as a result, “Star Trek” was never a must-see for anyone who wasn’t already a hardcore fan. By selling this as a new jumping-in point for audiences, and by emphasizing the sheer scale of the adventure, I think they’re getting across the message that this is “Star Trek” for everyone, not just for the devoted, and that should serve them well this summer.
I am just as tired of hearing about people who are tired of Will Ferrell as they are of seeing him. Brad Silberling’s “Land Of The Lost” is one of those movies that doesn’t really need to exist, but of course, anything that’s got any brand awareness before it’s made is boner-fuel for the studios these days, and so here we are. Having said that, I like the choice they made to embrace the insane source material, and instead of trying to do a straight-faced and serious take on the show, they’re creating a big crazy SF/fantasy world and then dropping Will Ferrell and Danny McBride into the middle of it. If that doesn’t appeal to you on paper, this trailer won’t win you over, but I think the not-quite-real look of things and the obvious snark that comes through loud and clear is pretty appealing, and I look forward to checking this one out.
[More after the jump.]
At the risk of offending the fine folks at Dreamworks Animation, I’m not sure why you advertise something that’s being released in crisp, beautiful Real-D in theaters with a crappy red-and-blue version at home. I hate TV 3D right now. It’s still mired in the 1950s, and now you risk having the audience think that’s how the film will look when they see it in the theater. It’s NOT, but how are they supposed to know that? You can’t really have the announcer say, “We know this home version of the 3D sort of sucks and makes your eyes hurt, but in the theater, we’re using a much better process that it’s red and blue and we promise it’ll look great. SEE IT!” The trailer for “Monsters Vs. Aliens” is more busy than funny, but it’s pretty true to the 30 minutes or so I’ve seen from the film. Lots of vaguely adult jokes, pop culture references, and dizzying camerawork that’s designed to really show off the 3D. The bridge sequence you see a few glimpses of is dazzling when you see it in context, and the monsters are fairly funny when they’re away from the not-as-funny President and his cabinet. I don’t expect this to be quite the same kind of home run as “Kung Fu Panda” was, but I’m crossing my fingers it’s better than the “Shrek” sequels.
I’ve seen about half of Pixar’s “Up” already, and what I’ve seen is dazzling and emotional and not built like I would expect from a summer blockbuster. It’s a very personal movie, very intimate in some ways, and the “bad guys” still aren’t even being hinted at yet, which is probably a good thing. I like that Pixar’s campaigns now are designed to sell you characters instead of just giving the entire film away before the audience gets a chance to see it. They’re selling you Carl and Russell, the old man and the little boy, and the sweet and funny chemistry they have. What they aren’t selling you is… well… everything else. House. Balloons. Funny. That’s it so far, and I’ll be honest… it might be enough.
“4ast And 4urious,” or whatever it’s called, looks like they put the first three films in a blender and poured America a big frothy mug of whatever came out. And that’s probably not a bad thing, considering the buzz these trailers have caused so far. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a franchise like this where the major stars from a first film return to the series this far down the line, but it looks like it may pay off in not just a renewed interest in the series, but also in Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, whose careers have cooled significantly in the last few years. This looks like the biggest of the films so far, and Justin Lin appears to be growing into a fairly spiffy big-budget action director.
I spent a decent chunk of time on the sets for “Race To Witch Mountain,” and I think Disney knows exactly what they’re doing with this one. It’s the big summer live-action movie for the crowd that’s not old enough for the slightly-darker thrills of most of the other movies advertised today. This is very much a nod to the live-action Disney films of the ’70s, and director Andy Fickman is a real-life UFO enthusiast whose passion for the subject could turn a fairly standard kiddie programmer into something more eccentric than expected. It also serves as a bridge between the family-friendly audience the Rock’s been building and the action fans who keep waiting for him to make a no-apologies action movie.
I wasn’t a fan of “The Da Vinci Code” as either a film or a book, but I’ll give Dan Brown this much… “Angels & Demons” was a better read. It’s still the same exact formula, and I anticipate this film will be a whole lot of silly conspiracy exposition punctuated with occasional bursts of over-choreographed action. Still, I imagine this will be a fairly sizeable hit for Universal since there’s a huge audience for these books. It’s just not me.
Call me crazy, but I like the “Year One” footage a lot. I like the low-key approach to the period, and I thought the Cain & Abel stuff was very funny, as was Jack Black’s approach to hunting. I spent some time on the set, and Harold Ramis talked a lot about how “Life Of Brian” is the gold standard for this sort of material, a sort of comedic “Rosencrantz & Gildenstern” for the Old Testament. It’s a great cast, and after some mixed reaction to early test screenings, Ramis and his team have been hard at work tweaking the film for its summer release. No one uses the test screening process better than Judd Apatow right now, so fingers crossed that he gets this one right, too.
And finally, there’s “Transformers 2.” If you didn’t like the first film, I doubt this footage is going to suddenly win you over, but I thought the first film was exactly what it was supposed to be: giant robots trashing Los Angeles. Sure, the film was too long and there was way more of Shia being funny or Megan Fox being hot than of the actual robots, but I’d expect that with a sequel, we’ll see waaaaaay more robot action. And what the hell is that giant thing at the end? As with “G.I. Joe,” I am unmoved by any nostalgia for these properties. I’m just responding to the wow factor of the commercial, and considering this is the first footage we’ve seen from it, I’d say it’s a heck of a way to kick off a campaign. Well-played, Bay.