Friday, January 7, 2011

Your Belated Christmas Trailer Trove

The new batch of trailers that came with the Christmas releases had fewer surprises than the Thanksgiving ones, but there are a few interesting titles here that ought to tide us over until the Superbowl. Once again, all links lead to Trailer Addict.

Rango - Westerns are back in full force this year, with "True Grit," "Cowboys vs. Aliens," and now "Rango" for the younger set. The dusty, gritty, Southwestern vibe I'm getting from the visuals has me intrigued, more than the promise of Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski's involvement. It's nice to see an animated film trying to move away from unreal perfection and getting down and dirty instead. This is the first new animated feature from Industrial Light & Magic in decades, and the fabled effects house might just become a surprise major player in the CGI animation landscape. And I can't help wondering if Rango is one of the lizards from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," who made off with a bit of Hunter's soul.

Thor - Not much more to see since the Comic Con footage, but the new trailer is edited better and has more finished effects. I'm worried about the possibility of bad dialogue and epic overkill in the direction, but I still like the art direction and the sense of scope here.

Hanna - Saoirse Ronan plays a child assassin, more of a junior Evelyn Salt than a Mathilda, who is trained in secret and then unleashed upon the unsuspecting world. Already, I think this one looks miles ahead of the upcoming "Sucker Punch," which features similarly armed and dangerous teenage girls, or rather the adolescent male fantasy incarnations of them. "Hanna" at least will have a proper opponent, played by Cate Blanchett, and the appearance of Eric Bana and Olivia Williams in supporting roles doesn't hurt either.

Tree of Life - Terrence Malick's new film isn't being released until the fall of 2011, but the trailer is already making the rounds, first attached to prints of "The Black Swan," and then made available online. Ever enigmatic, Malick has only given the sketchiest details of what "Tree of Life" is supposed to be about. We know that it stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, though they probably won't share the screen together since Pitt is playing the father of Penn's character, and the narrative appears to be jumping around in time. The trailer is an intriguing and unapologetically artsy hint at cinematic possibilities to come. I don't count myself as a Terrence Malick fan, but it's hard not to be excited for this one.

Real Steel - I've heard a lot of negative reactions to "Real Steel," which is a science fiction boxing story starring Hugh Jackman and a lot of Transformers-esque robot brawlers. Will this be Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots the Movie? Maybe, but maybe not. "Real Steel" is based on an old "Twilight Zone" episode, "Steel," which I'm sure very few people remember. If they stay true to the original ending, I think this film is going to surprise some people. The trailer does a so-so job of selling the concept of robot-on-robot sporting spectacle, but the effects look promising. The film isn't due out until October, so they've got some time to hammer out the bugs. And speaking of robot movies...

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Sigh.

Rio - The first trailer has been floating around for a few months, and December brought a second one. The story is awfully reminicent of the PIXAR newt movie that was quashed in pre-production - two of the last remaining members of an endangered species are brought together to propagate, and end up on a wacky adventure to help the romance along. Only in this case, it's with parrots. Blue Sky Studios, home of the "Ice Age" movies, is behind this, and from the level of humor in the trailer I'm not expecting much. The only thing I wonder about is why Blue Sky didn't hold this back to 2012, so they could take advantage of the excitement for the 2012 Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro.

The Lincoln Lawyer - Wherever Matthew McConaughey has been, I wished he'd stayed there. This is easily the most incompetent trailer out of the bunch, that fails to establish anything useful about the film's plot or the main character. Ryan Phillippe apparently plays a lead, but we don't learn a thing about him. I pity all the other good actors I spotted filling out the supporting cast.

Paul - This was not what I expected when I heard that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would be reuniting for a movie about two Comic-Con fanboys who meet an alien. I was anticipating something along the lines of "Galaxy Quest." "Paul" looks like "The Hangover" with E.T.'s stoner cousin. The trailer could just be playing up the crasser moments for the lowest common denominator, and since director Greg Mattola was also behind "Adventureland" and "Superbad," there ought to be some more character-based humor in there too. On the other hand, it doesn't help that Paul the alien reminds me an awful lot of Roger from "American Dad."

Red State - Kevin Smith is making a horror movie about fundamentalist extremism taken too far. The teaser went up on his websites just before Christmas, and the buzz from those who have seen the film has been terrific. I'm not big on horror films, but all the best luck to Smith to stage a comeback. At this point, anything will be a step up from "Cop Out."

Water for Elephants - The trailer is pretty awkward, especially toward the end, but the film itself seems promising enough. I guess it was inevitable that I'd see a Robert Pattinson movie eventually - he's up for the next Cronenberg film, which seals it - but one look at the cast run makes me wonder if he's not out of his league here. Anyway, it'll be good to see Reese Witherspoon onscreen again, as I've missed her and have no intention of going anywhere near "How Do You Know?" The release date suggests this is an Oscar season reject, but I'm a sucker for period pieces and shameless melodrama.

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