By Zach Kolkin
August 15, 2005
Welcome to Trailer Hitch, your weekly look at the latest movie trailers to hit the Internet. A number of fall releases are on display this week, including Jarhead, one of the year's first heavyweight Oscar contenders from talented director Sam Mendes. Is it our Trailer of the Week? Keep reading to find out.
Can you ever just be, like, whelmed?
One of the most memorable things about Aeon Flux, the mid- '90s anime series that aired on MTV, was its bizarre, yet somehow appealing, visual style. Consequently, one would expect that the live-action film version of the show would closely mimic that style. Judging from this trailer, however, that does not seem to be the case. Admittedly, I was only a casual viewer of the show, but even having seen the show several times, I was completely puzzled by what was going on in the trailer. Perhaps the clip is primarily aimed at the series' hardcore fans; everyone else, however, is going to be left thinking "What the hell did I just see?" Even though they did not seem particularly similar to what I remember from the show, I was impressed by some of the visual effects showcased in the trailer, particularly the scene with Charlize Theron and Sophie Okonedo in the grass (you'll know it when you see it). Still, at the end of this ad, I was not left wanting more, and I presume many others will feel the same way.
Ewan McGregor's fifth release of 2005 will be this film, a psychological thriller co-starring Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling. The movie's premise sounds quite similar to a number of other pictures of the same ilk: McGregor's psychiatrist character can see into a world that is somewhere in between life and death, and he uses this ability to try and prevent the suicide of one of his patients. Certainly, this does not appear to be a movie straying very far from the tropes of its genre; the preview ends with McGregor grabbing Gosling by his shirt with both hands, shoving him against a wall, and shouting, "I need some answers!" Yes, this scene plays exactly as stereotypically as it sounds. Although the movie does have some talented actors in McGregor and Watts, this clip does not give me the slightest impression that it does anything all that interesting with them.
El Crimen Ferpecto
Does this Spanish dark comedy have anything going for it besides an inspiringly cute title? The jury's still out after watching this trailer, which is simply the international preview with the addition of English subtitles (the ad still trumpets the movie's October 2004 theatrical release date in Spain). Although the premise of a ladies' man who has to commit the "ferpect" crime in order maintain his extravagant lifestyle is humorous, it is anything but original, and the picture doesn't really do anything to distinguish itself from the myriad of similarly-themed movies that have preceded it. On a brighter note, the lead actor, Guillermo Toledo, looks great in his role as the suave Rafael Gonzalez, and while the storyline might not seem noteworthy, it is quite possible that the movie's acting performances will make it worthwhile. Although this is not a particularly engaging trailer, I'll wait to read some reviews before I make a final decision on this one.
OK, I'm intrigued
I hate to say it, but I actually kind of liked this trailer. I'm not usually a very big fan of horror movies, but this preview casts the picture as an atmospheric horror film, rather than a more typical slasher film filled with cheap scares. Of course, it's not all that surprising that this movie would sell itself as atmospheric, since that is exactly how the original The Fog, released 25 years ago, garnered its cult status. Certainly, this is a remake that seems to prefer not to stray very far from its lineage. The young, good-looking cast – which includes Tom Welling, Maggie Grace, and Selma Blair – is culled primarily from popular television series, and in that sense, reminds me of a movie like I Know What You Did Last Summer. It would seem that the film's producers are relying on the draw of their cast, as well as this genuinely creepy trailer, to lead the movie to financial success, rather than appealing to those who might have enjoyed the original. I don't necessarily think this is all that bad a strategy, especially after being pleasantly surprised by this clip.
Shooting Shona (Trailer)
One of the most consistently effective ways of making a good trailer is adding a great score. In this case, some slightly creepy violin music is used to great effect in turning this preview for Shooting Shona, a mysterious indie thriller, into something quite intriguing. The clip features very little dialogue, instead relying on the aforementioned string score and a premise introduced textually, rather than in voiceover, to draw in the viewer. And, lo and behold, it works pretty well. Even after watching the trailer, I'm not entirely clear on what the movie's storyline is, other than a woman's strange search for her missing flatmate; still, my confusion serves more as a desire to learn more, rather than complete and utter befuddlement. The clip exudes an unconventional tone that befits an indie flick like this one; my only hope is that the movie lives up to its highly intriguing potential.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Although his name might not be very famous, Shane Black is the creator of the Lethal Weapon series, and he brings his experience working within the cop buddy action-comedy genre to this film, his directing debut. The trailer is quite funny, predominantly highlighting the relationship between Robert Downey Jr., a thief who stumbles into an acting gig, and Val Kilmer, a detective who serves as his consultant. The premise is that this unlikely pair finds themselves wrapped up in a murder investigation, and consequently have to work together to solve the crime, etc., etc. What really sells the film, of course, is its two leads, and both do a great job of hamming it up here. Neither actor is particularly well known for their comedic acting chops, but nevertheless, they seem quite at home here, and with the skilled writer-director Black working on a project squarely within his element, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang definitely looks to have great potential.
I'm already counting down the days
This is a great trailer for a new romantic comedy with a very funny premise: Uma Thurman plays a woman who, unbeknownst to her, starts dating her therapist's son. However, the therapist (played by Meryl Streep) soon discovers the truth, and has to keep her mouth shut while her patient continues to spill the most intimate of details about her relationship with Streep's son. Oddly enough, the film is written and directed by Ben Younger, whose only previous feature was Boiler Room, a picture which seems 180 degrees away from this film thematically. As you might expect, the focus of the film is not the relationship between Thurman and her beau (played by Bryan Greenberg, perhaps best known – if known at all – for his recurring role on The WB's One Tree Hill), but rather Streep's therapist character. Indeed, the trailer shows us far more of the relationship between Streep and Thurman than it does Thurman and Greenberg. Still, this is a very funny clip, and one can only hope that this preview isn't giving away all of the film's jokes. Prime definitely looks like a winning romantic comedy.
Jarhead (Trailer of the Week)
"Welcome to the suck." It's an unlikely catchphrase, but for this film, which, if one were working in cliché, would be called something like "an irreverent, unflinching look at the Gulf War," it seems like a perfect fit. Jarhead is a movie with some serious Oscar potential, given its Academy Award-winning director, Sam Mendes, and its cast, which includes Oscar-winners Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper, as well as young critical favorites Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard (give it six months and I guarantee you someone is going to make a joke about how the double A's stand for "Academy Award"). The trailer features a minimal amount of dialogue, but it fits perfectly here, especially given the great soundtrack, which includes both Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and Kanye West's "Jesus Walks." This seems to be the movie's teaser, as there really isn't too much of a storyline introduced, and I expect a more explicative trailer to come along soon. Still, for now, this is a fantastic clip that should help increase awareness and buzz for the picture substantially.