From the Japanese ‘Avengers’ ad to Hasselhoff in ‘Piranha 3DD’ – catching up on the latest trailers

One of the interesting side effects of being at a film festival, especially one that lasts longer than a week, is that you become unstuck in time.  You stay so busy that the outside world sort of recedes completely.  I came up for air a few times during SXSW, but for the most part, it was the rest of Team HitFix that was dealing with breaking news and posting new trailers.  I missed quite a few of them, and when I realized that, I thought I’d go back and catch up.

I know I talked to people at SXSW about that Japanese “Avengers” trailer, and it’s certainly worth some conversation.  It’s interesting that the Japanese trailer just plain reveals the alien invasion aspect of the film that the American campaign has so carefully hidden.  There’s a lot more material here, including an appearance by Pepper Potts that surprised me.  Until now, I wasn’t 100% sure she was even in the film.

There’s more of an emphasis on both Hawkeye and The Black Widow here, and we finally see Cobie Smulders, who I hear is one of the surprise highlights of the film.  All in all, this is a great sneak peek at the film, and now that I’ve seen it, I don’t want to see anything else until I see it all put together.

I did notice something, though.  First, check out the trailer, and then I’ll explain…

Now, in that, you see Hawkeye in the midst of what looks like two aliens, lasers flying around him.  Here’s a still:

That’s not how that shot used to look, though.  Marvel’s been using shots in the earlier trailers that now feature totally different elements, and this one’s a great example.  Look at how that shot originally appeared when we saw it:

I love that they would use a shot like that in an early trailer knowing full well it’s going to be something else in the movie.  They embraced the idea of cutting a trailer with most of the FX still unfinished by simply dropping the FX altogether, and only adding them now, on the eve of release.  There’s more of those in that trailer, too.

Have you seen the “Neighborhood Watch” trailer? 

Looking at that, would you guess that’s a science-fiction comedy?  First of all, I’m just excited to see Richard Ayoade in the middle of what looks like a big-budget Hollywood movie.  That’s awesome.  But it’s interesting that the first trailer for this tells you absolutely nothing about the larger world of the movie.  I wonder how they’re going to introduce that element to the ad campaign, and more importantly, when they’re going to do that.  This is basically just them planting a flag and saying, “Look who we’ve got.  They’re in a movie together.  It’s coming soon.  We’ll tell you more later.”

I still don’t fully accept that “The Raven” is a real movie.  It’s too ridiculous.  And didn’t “From Hell” already come out and tank?  I will say this… Relativity Media seems to looooooooooove Luke Evans.

I just read the script for “Dark Shadows” on the flight back from SXSW, and I was surprised how every single word in the trailer is in that script.  This appears to be a case of everyone sticking incredibly close to a screenplay, and based on that read and this trailer, I think this could be fascinating. 

Even the music that you hear in the trailer is mentioned in the script.  This is the first time in a while that I’m actively looking forward to a Tim Burton film, because it really does feel like a perfect fit of filmmaker and material, and on the page, it’s sexy and weird and somehow all seems to work.  Watch… it’ll be “Mars Attacks” all over again, and I’ll end up being the one weirdo who likes it.  I just know that Eva Green’s going to be filthy and strange, and that’s pretty much enough to get me into the theater.

Look! “Piranha 3DD” is a real movie!

Hasselhoff looks ridiculous here, and the entire movie seems to be played at the most ridiculous level of reality possible.  And if you’re making a movie about killer piranha who end up in the plumbing systems, then “ridiculous” seems like the way you should go.

Oren Peli, on the other hand, takes his horror seriously, and I’m glad to see that his new film, “The Chernobyl Diaries,” looks like a film that uses the aesthetic of handheld, first-person films, but isn’t actually meant to be found footage.  It’s grim subject matter, so I’ll be curious to see how they handle it.

Peli’s on the verge of becoming a genuine brand name in horror, and if he has a real hit away from the “Paranormal Activity” series, that’ll push him over the top. 

On the other hand, I’m about as tired of the Adam Sandler brand as I could possibly be.  He has officially just started making all the fake movies from “Funny People” without any ironic awareness at all.  It’s bizarre that this almost looks like a sequel to “Big Daddy.” 

The only joke that made me laugh in this was the tattoo joke, and even that isn’t so much about the delivery, but more the basic idea of a tattoo that’s grown that much.  I don’t think Sandler and Samberg look like they have any chemistry at all here, but I’m sure it will be, like all Sandler films, unfathomably successful.

This “Expendables 2” trailer looks like… well, it looks like the first movie, actually, which I thought was a drag.  Sure, they’ve added more people, and sure, they’ve promised that Schwarzenegger actually does something this time, but the best action films have a strong central concept, not just a laundry list of familiar faces.

I bought into the hype the first time around, but this time, I’ve got a real “prove it” attitude towards this one.  Not only is it Simon West directing, which I do not consider a significant improvement over Stallone, but that first film was a giant burn.  I would love for this to be what the first film wasn’t, but I just don’t believe it.

The best trailer I saw, out of all of them that I caught up with, was actually for a very small indie film called “Turn Me On Damnit!”, and I think this is about as great as a trailer can get in terms of conception and execution:

Turn Me On, Dammit! trailer http://360.sorensonmedia.com/73725948tab5bO4138PadceO181fd36a3032/embedv2.js

Whether that film is great or not, that trailer is beautifully realized, and whoever decided to use an Orson Welles song like that deserves a bonus.

As always, trailers can be a mixed bag, but here are my ratings for this particular batch.  Keep in mind, this is just a rating for the effectiveness of the trailer, not a judgment of any kind about the final film.

The Japanese “Avengers” trailer:  A

“Neighborhood Watch” teaser trailer:  B

“The Raven” trailer:  C

“Dark Shadows” trailer:  B +

“Piranha 3DD” trailer:  B –

“The Chernobyl Diaries”:  B –

“That’s My Boy”:  C –

“The Expendables 2”: C

“Turn Me On Damnit”:  A