Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl Movie Ads

I've been having a rough time with trailers lately, after a particularly bad run of them during awards season, so I haven't done a trailer post for a while. The movie promos that run during the Superbowl are rarely full trailers, because the expense is prohibitive, and so often leave a lot to be desired. Warner Brothers, Columbia, and FOX have opted out entirely this year. However, there's plenty of new material to gawk at from upcoming releases. Let's take a look at the highlights. As always, all links lead to Trailer Addict.

The Avengers – It was over too quick, but the spot did give us a few glimpses of more shiny special effects and the main characters in action. This is easily the most anticipated film that bought airtime this year, and one of several where a teaser for the new footage was posted online beforehand. The studio has also released an extended version, which has a killer tag with Tony Stark and the villain Loki. I wish they'd shown that bit instead of relying on all the effects shots and mayhem, which is becoming a far too common tactic in movie marketing these days.

The Lorax – It concerns me a little that a film based on Dr. Seuss's famous environmentalist fable is shying away from mentioning the actual message of its story. Of course, you don't sell a children's film to children by being too heavy on the stern, important morals, but by emphasizing all the humor and fun and bright colors. "The Lorax" certainly has that part down, but it remains to be seen if they can handle the substantive stuff. I'm crossing my fingers, because I think that Illumination Studios has the potential to really make something great, but we won't know until "The Lorax" is released next month.

John Carter – The marketing is still doing a terrible job of explaining what the movie is all about to an unfamiliar audience. The trailers and ads that have been released so far make it look like a cross between "Avatar" and a swords-and-sandals epic like "Clash of the Titans," and the Superbowl ad doesn't deviate from that. This was another movie spot that had a longer version released online, and the additional footage is just more of the same. What I'd like to see is a little more exposition and a little more basic storytelling to help establish the film's universe, which I think would clear up a lot of the confusion. Or are the effects and the action sequences really all that "John Carter" has going for it?

The Hunger Games – After initially passing on a spot during the game, Lionsgate bought time during the pregame show to air the new theatrical trailer. We still don’t get to see much from the actual "Hunger Games" event, where two dozen teenagers are forced to participate in their dystopia's yearly battle royale. However, it does do a nice job of setting the stakes and highlighting the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, being played by Jennifer Lawrence. Many are hoping this is going to be the next big franchise. It certainly looks like it's on the right track.

Battleship – A recent trailer cleared up the fact that this is going to be an alien invasion movie that looks an awful lot like "Transformers." And that's exactly how they're selling the movie, as being "from Hasbro, the company that brought you Transformers." Hasbro, of course, is the toy company that produces the Battleship board game that is the sole reason for this movie's existence. Right now it reminds me more of last year's "Battle: Los Angeles," which was a perfectly respectable little B-movie. "Battleship" looks much more expensive, with more familiar faces in the cast, but in about the same league.

Act of Valor – Football and patriotism go hand in hand, so it's no surprise why this one is here. I counted three spots that aired during the game and the immediate post-game show for this action film, which has an interesting gimmick – the film stars active duty U.S. Navy SEALs and was made with the cooperation of the U.S. Navy. This is the first major project for the two credited directors and the film was very cheaply made, so I'm not expecting much. The marketing budget is almost certainly costing as much as the actual production budget.

G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation – The first "G.I. Joe" film was terrible. I understand it did make money, but I still question the decision to roll ahead with a sequel. At least the filmmakers have opted to pay for some actual movie stars this time out, namely The Rock and Bruce Willis. However, I'm worried that their appearances will be limited to what we've seen in the trailers and ads so far and the real leading man will be the returning Channing Tatum, who has all the charisma of, well, Channing Tatum.

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