Preview Review: First Impressions of Teasers and Trailers!

Welcome to the first edition of another regular post series I’m interested in providing here on my blog, in which I watch some trailers and tell you what I think of them. Now, I know it isn’t okay to judge a film on its advertising but it is okay to say whether, and why, a trailer is successful or unsuccessful in what it tells us or doesn’t tell us about the movie it is trying to sell. So that’s my main goal: to say when a trailer is amazing on the grounds of how well it convinces me the movie is worth seeing, or when it is not-so-amazing, usually (for me personally) on the grounds of how much of the plot it gives away. When it comes to trailers, too much is just as bad a thing as not enough.

And now that I’ve introduced this style of post, let me begin with The Counselor (release: October 25th)


This trailer is complicated verging on convoluted, but it is gripping and draws you in more or less immediately. The plot is a little hazy but I think the sheer star power here blinds and numbs you enough so you don’t even care about those details and intricacies just yet. There’s time enough for that when you actually see the film, which based on this trailer, I think you will. It’s got Michael Fassbender doing a pretty adequate American accent and emoting quite a bit towards the end of the 2 and a half minutes here, Penelope Cruz as his seemingly naive and caught-in-the-middle fiance, Javier Bardem rocking a strange look (what else is new though, does he ever look like himself in any movie roles?) and Cameron Diaz as a chilling femme fetale type. Oh and Brad Pitt is there too. Oh and it’s Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy so basically this movie is epic just from the credits alone. There’s crime and money and violence and the trailer uses Sail which is basically the best song to use in a trailer like this, in my opinion; it is just so dramatic but also catchy and therefore fitting as a soundtrack for this. And is that a cheetah or a leopard? Wait, does it even matter? No, no it does not. If this movie wants to have a cheetah or a leopard running through the desert in its trailer while Awolnation is scream-singing “THIS IS HOW I SHOW MY LOVE…” then I think we’re meant to just go with it. Because this trailer is crazy. And awesome. Hopefully the film is as much of an exciting, fast, twisty, and sexy thriller as this trailer alone seems to suggest it will be. Consensus: Take my ticket money, I’m already there.

Now, one trailer which did not benefit from its star-studded quality. for me anyway, was Prisoners (release: September 20th)


The TV spot I found on IMDB certainly sticks to one consistent tone at least in its one minute run, and that tone is more or less: DUN DUN THIS IS A THRILLER WITH HUGH JACKMAN AS A VIGILANTE WITH A BEARD YELLING AT PAUL DANO WHO IS BEING HELD IN A BATHROOM WITH TAPE ON HIS MOUTH DUN DUN. No, no I’m sorry that still doesn’t work for me. The cast also includes Jake Gyllenhaal as a cop who can’t seem to find Jackman’s daughter and Terrance Howard is there too and the plot would suggest I should care about these characters and see this movie but it just doesn’t. The first trailer I saw felt long, and draggy, and showed me way too much. I don’t need to know for sure that Hugh Jackman takes justice (and Paul Dano) into his own hands. I don’t need to see Gyllenhaal feeling bad that he can’t solve the crime. I don’t need to see themes of ethics in my 2 and a half minute trailer. I’d rather have the strictly suspenseful tone found in the one minute spot than have the audience be forced to sit through laughter, tears, violence, screaming, more crying, and pretty people looking at each other like “what have you done!?” It just plays out a little too melodramatically for me, and I honestly feel like I saw the whole film minus the very conclusion and at that point do I even care about the finale? Nope. Not unless someone convinces me it makes sitting through the feature length version of all the things I just mentioned worth it. And also… What is up with the written maze throughout the trailer? I get it, it’s a creepy motif that ties the whole thing together and then appears with the title but it didn’t scare me so much as distracted me. Consensus: Not interested until proven wrong about why I’m not interested.

Next, we have Her (release: January 2014)


I am quite literally in despair that we have to wait so long for this film. I mean, you had me at Spike Jonze and romance. Then I heard the romance was between Joaquin Phoenix and his computer’s operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson, and I watched the trailer immediately. The trailer does not indulge in how strange the premise seems to be. In fact, it is such a wonderfully put together trailer in how well it makes the oddity of the story seem quite grounded and normal albeit a little whimsical. And once again, music truly helps: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs fit perfectly with the first half which is more or less typical (and I don’t mean that in a negative way at all) indie-rom-com feel, and the shift is perfect in telling us too that this isn’t all goofy, silly fun. It isn’t just a man in love with his computer, that isn’t the point, but rather it is about real and broken human characters and human interaction, and there seems to be so much heart and healing at the center of this story. Or at least, that is what this trailer makes me expect. It is entertaining, intriguing, cute and has that characteristically Spike Jonze otherworldly quality to it that simultaneously transports you into fantasy while also remaining somehow so simple and full of humanity. Consensus: I have high hopes and definitely want to see this movie.

Then, there’s A.C.O.D. (coming soon)


This movie looks adorable, which sounds condescending but I merely mean that it looks lighthearted and smart at the same time, it seems like it will have plenty of laughs but with a kind of subtlety and very real characters. Plus the cast is amazing– Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins (who should honestly just keep appearing in comedies like these please and thanks), Catherine O’Hara, Amy Poehler, Jane Lynch, Jessica Alba (who doesn’t appear in enough, or at least not in enough things that are good so let’s hope my initial expectations are correct and that this proves to be an exception/comeback of sorts for her) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clark Duke who appear in the trailer but aren’t mentioned which is a shame because I can already tell they’re going to be comedic supporting-cast-standouts here as they usually are. The tale is very straightforwardly presented to us in this preview– Adam Scott is an adult child of divorce dealing with his parents as well as his own life path in light of his being the anonymous subject of a book/study written by Jane Lynch and in the midst of his younger brother getting married. Hilarity and striving towards some kind of self-fulfillment will probably ensue, and no matter how typical a formula the film follows, I think the cast and script are going to be what makes the film unique and enjoyable. Consensus: Might not see it in theaters but definitely like what I’ve seen so far.

And lastly for now until next time, I want to talk about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (release: Christmas)


My first thought was “Of Monsters and Men song in the background, this is going to be good” and it was. It really was. But, I didn’t know what to expect for another good 30 seconds and to be honest, I’m still not sure what to expect from the full length movie. However, in the case of this really artful looking adventure-comedy directed by Ben Stiller, I think revealing less in the trailer was a good choice. There isn’t even any dialogue until the last few seconds. Instead, we just see shots of Stiller imagining saving Kristen Wiig and then being snapped back into reality by Adam Scott who appears to be an obnoxious co-worker but then suddenly, we are presented with fight scenes out of windows and epic landscapes and instead of being turned off by my confusion, I want to see the film even more because I desperately want to understand what all these beautiful and interesting shots are a part of and what they add up to. It seems so much like fantasy and I feel like this is going to be a really important installment in Stiller’s directorial canon because it seems oddly not at all over the top in the way Ben Stiller’s comedies often are and also considering how fantastical it looks at the same time. If anything I think it looks like a mature and interesting genre bending experience, but it really is hard to tell much of anything for certain from the trailer and once again, that is more than fine with me. Consensus: You know where I’ll be on Christmas.

Well, that’s all for now folks! But tune in next time when I talk about more trailers I’ve seen. I’m probably going to continue at the rate of five trailers per post, five trailers of my choosing even if I’ve seen others before writing these. Hope this helped narrow down people’s choices in what coming attractions to check out!


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