There’s an old joke: Why don’t they make the whole airplane out of the stuff they make the indestructible black box out of? And I’d suggest a motion picture version: Why don’t they let the person who puts the motion picture trailers together actually make the movies?
Face it, oftentimes, the trailer is much better than the motion picture it hypes. It includes all the ideal jokes, the searing special effects, the stars and their flashy costumes. It smooshes a two-hour film down to the basics and makes it look as if every second offers heart-pounding excitement or hilarious quips.
The motion picture often disappoints by comparison. It’s a lot harder to stretch out the drama over two hours than two minutes. But for those few magic moments when we are watching the trailers, every film can be magical, every star an Oscar winner.
Here’s a look at a few trailers that caught my eye recently.
‘Toy Story’: A+++ How can you not want to stand in line for “Toy Story 3” (on this page) after watching any of the multiple trailers Pixar has released? Not only do you get the plot summary — the toys are donated to day-care after Andy goes to college — but you meet the new characters and get a sample of the new setting. The new star of the show is the ascot-wearing Ken doll, voiced by Michael Keaton, who comes down from his dream house and is gobsmacked by his first sight of the bodacious Barbie. “Love your legwarmers!” he coos to her. “Nice as…cot.” she returns. You get the idea: The children will love it, but parents will be laughing at the jokes that sail over the young ones’ heads. “Toy Story’s” trailers do exactly what a good trailer should do —whets your appetite to see the whole thing, and gets you buzzing to your friends — and kids. (Film opened June 18)
‘Knight & Day’: C+ Can you state “generic action film trailer”? (on this page) Things blow up! Cameron Diaz looks beautiful, blonde and confused! Tom Cruise wears shades, shows those awesome choppers, and there are lots of bullets and explosions! They trade quips and look cute, but I have no idea what is going on. Still, Cruise has charm, and mindless action isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the summer. The trailer could sell it better but that doesn’t mean the film will not attract an audience anyway. (Film out June 23)
‘Twilight: Eclipse’: B Edward looks pale, Bella looks nauseous, and Jacob looks like he’s allergic to shirts. The main trailer (on this page) jumps around a bit — Jacob and Edward argue! Vampires are eating Seattle! They’re all going to swim to Forks, apparently! But Taylor Lautner steals the show as he rounds up his snarly wolfpack and admits that even though they’re in on the side of the vamps, they still don’t like them much. The fight scene is unintentionally hilarious, with giant CGI fluffball wolves doing a kind of Cirque de Soleil leap over the vamps. The main trailer, however, does a much better job of selling the flick than some of the other released clips, which include a completely random one of the Volturi that makes no sense if you haven’t read the books and one of Bella and Rosalie having a fairly useless conversation. But does this film series even need a trailer? Its fans would line up even if the cast were replaced by mimes. (Film out June 30)
‘The Last Airbender’: C I’m not familiar with “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the Nickelodeon show that was the basis for this film, but the trailer spells it out (on this page) : There’s one kid who can control all the elements, but it may already be too late for him to save the world. Do you think? I don’t. He’ll find a way. M. Night Shyamalan directs, and it’s in 3-D. (The trailer doesn’t tell you that it wasn’t filmed in 3-D, it was converted later, a strike against it in my book.) Not sure this film can reach beyond the audience who already are familiar with it. The trailer alone just isn’t selling it to the uninitiated, and for a $100 million film, don’t you need to reach beyond Nick fans? (Film out July 2)
‘Predators’: B+ It’s summer. Not every motion picture is going to be Tolstoy. Sometimes we just want a good scare, even with a few gross-out scenes thrown in for good measure. And that’s just what the “Predators” trailer (on this page) promises. The creepy creatures from the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick are back, and this time they’ve taken the humans to their home planet to hunt them for sport. The trailer spells that premise out quickly, then builds on it with plenty of creepy quick cuts of the humans freaking out as they try to hide from the monsters hunting them down. Every horror flick needs at least one money shot, and this trailer fulfills that with an image of Adrien Brody as what appears to be a laser gunsight lands on him, and then multiplies all over his body. This may not exactly be an Oscar-winning movie, but the trailer delivers. (Film out July 9)
‘Inception’: C “Inception” is earning good buzz (on this page) , but director Christopher Nolan, known ideal for the re-imagined Batman films, does have some knocks against his latest project. A completely vague title. A plot that can’t be easily explained. A genre that’s tough to peg (sci-fi? action? thriller?). Leonardo DiCaprio plays a futuristic thief who steals secrets out of people’s minds, and then is hired to do the opposite — plant an idea. Sounds intriguing and intelligent, but the trailer could be about anything. A top is spinning! Cars drive down a highway! Someone gets dragged away! Water tilts in a glass! DiCaprio looks scared! Menacing! Does a “Matrixy” move in what appears to be a hotel hallway! This first trailer is just a tease — later ones do get into the plot more specifically — but this is a difficult film to sell in a couple of minutes. It’s a lot easier to show us panicked people running from Predators than it is to show someone planting ideas in another’s subconscious. (Film out July 16)
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Submited at Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 12:00 am on Movies by robert
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