Preview Review: Trick or Trailer

This installment of preview review is dedicated to all things genre, in celebration of my very fun but very exhausting weekend at Comic-Con as well as the fact that it is now my favorite month, with just weeks to go until Halloween and the new season of The Walking Dead finally starting last night.

I, Frankenstein (January 24th, 2014) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxOSPfUw3qw

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Oh boy, where do I begin? Well, first of all, let me just say that I was not as upset as I was expecting to be; Aaron Eckhart’s creature has apparently been around the block quite a few times, which is to say he is actually 200 years old and I give this film (and the graphic novel it was based on) credit then for giving him that time and opportunity to learn how to be articulate and educated like he was in the book. See, I bet people are expecting me to either be totally opposed to seeing this film or totally excited, given my love for all things Frankenstein. However, after seeing this trailer I’m basically on the fence. Aaron Eckhart is so brooding in this trailer alone that I can’t imagine what a drag he’s going to be for the entirety of the film; he, as an actor, has such charm and wit that being totally one sided as he seems to be here is a shame and a waste of potential, and if we’re doing the character justice at all I would hope to see some complexity there. Also, once the trailer said that this is from the same folks who brought us the all too black-and-blue Underworld flicks– with their saturated special effects and neo-gothic sets and costumes–  it all made sense to me, and I can’t say I see there being a huge difference in this film and those films besides swapping out creatures. Consensus: I’m curious but skeptical; it looks to me like it has the potential to be entertaining but not if it takes itself as seriously as this trailer did.

Vampire Academy (February 14th, 2014)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH5UmVStHXE

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So before watching this trailer, and again having no knowledge that it was adapted from a novel, I was expecting the worst. I was expecting yet another installation into an ever decaying subgenre of teenybopper vampire fodder, filled with angst and hormonal romance. After I watched it, I wasn’t so certain any longer just how true any of that is or will prove to be. The story itself isn’t represented at all in the trailer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing seeing as it is a little convoluted for such a short trailer: a group of half-human half-vampire beings attend a school to train for a life of protecting their own kind against, and killing, the other group of vampires who intend harm. The trailer is a lot more gritty and sexy and action packed than your run of the mill trailer for similar movies, which is why I’m hoping that this movie won’t be similar at all. Consensus: I probably wouldn’t spend money to see it in theaters, but it certainly looks like it could rise above the ranks of other genre movies made for younger demographics.

Birth of the Living Dead (October 18th, 2013)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TowiviD3xgE

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My favorite thing about this trailer, besides the subject matter of course, is the way it first sets up the crucially important historical and social context in which George A. Romero made his seminal zombie feature, Night of the Living Dead. The trailer is more or less a sequence of shots from the movie alternating with still images and news reels from the time; between Vietnam and the civil rights movement, these contexts are still so pertinent in discussing this film that a whole documentary was centered around it, and interviews with Romero himself really round out the trailer and I expect they really add that personal insight to the film as well, insight that is equally crucial to understanding the (re-)birth of the zombie subgenre in horror. Consensus: I think more documentaries should exist with the level of quality and reverence to the subject matter as this one seems to have, but which actually focus on horror as a reflection of society; as a genre with such little respect paid despite these constant correlations, documentaries which offer proof of these connections are possibly invaluable.

Ender’s Game (November 1st, 2013) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP0cUBi4hwE

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All homophobia-induced plans to boycott this film aside, this trailer was… just mediocre. Everything about it was safe and typical, and as trailers are meant to indicate something about the movie it is giving us a sneak peek at, I wonder how safe and typical the film as a whole will be. The cast is great: Harrison Ford actually seems to be a little bored, but other than that, I mean Asa Butterfield from Hugo looks like he’d do a great job, as would Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld. Then we’ve got the consistently spectacular Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis, but even they seem to be phoning it in, at least in the snippets we get from the trailer that feature their characters. The sets and special effects look par for the course; not bad by any means but just predictable. Consensus: I probably won’t want to see this movie; not because of the boycott but because it just doesn’t look like it will have anything unique to offer the sci-fi genre. If someone convinces me that this isn’t the case, or that despite this it actually is effective in its predictability and entertaining on some level as a result, then maybe I’d change my mind. But the trailer alone only succeeds at showing us what we already expect to see.

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