Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A look at the Super Bowl movie trailers

Underwhelmed by a game in which neither team spoke to my cheering emotion (other than a small affinity for Kurt Warner after drafting him as a joke in a fantasy football league in his first year with the Rams) and the number of commercials that were clearly affected by the current economic downturn we find ourselves in, I chose to focus my attention to the movie trailers we all got to see during the game. On the flip side I go into much greater detail about each one, as well as grade them...

Links in the titles go to the official pages with hi-def viewing options.

Race to Witch Mountain

I vaguely remember the Disney movie, "Escape to Witch Mountain." I'm pretty sure I enjoyed watching it. This trailer? Not so much. The Rock has some charismatic qualities, but I'm not sure he can carry a movie all by himself. Especially with two kids supporting him. Add that to the corniness the trailer tries to relay and I don't think this is a winner. I did get a slight Close Encounters of the Third Kind vibe with the helicopters, but I don't think that's enough to get me into the theater.

Grade: D+


It's tough to find fault with Pixar. They are the leaders in computer animation and always seem to push the bar with each movie they release, and also strive to tell a compelling story. When it works (Toy Story, The Incredibles) you have a film anyone and everyone can enjoy. When it doesn't quite work (Cars), you still have a cool canvas to look at and enjoy.

Unfortunately, Up looks like it might be in the Cars category. The first clue is how the trailer reminds us of many of the Pixar titles of the past. Sure, it may be a sly marketing move since there seems to be a group of people out there that will see everything Pixar does no matter what. Still, it has to be at least considered a minor red flag.

The other potential issue is the old man main character. I'm sure he's good and fine and well defined, but he also seems a bit of a cliche. The trailer really doesn't hint at a plot at all, and I can pretty much guarantee the old man will show a soft heart by film's end, so you have to ask yourself - are you jazzed to see awesome animation on the big screen, regardless of the story?

Grade: C+

Star Trek

JJ Abrams much anticipated Star Trek "prequel" doesn't disappoint on action or edits. And it certainly doesn't look like your father's Star Trek. While it has an established anticipation level of providing a back story for many of the characters millions love, I feel slightly underwhelmed and I can't put my finger on why. It might be because the original series taught parables and fables in a science fiction setting. It did more than entertain, it educated. And I didn't get a sense of too much education during the viewing of this trailer.

Grade: C-

Land of the Lost

Jurassic Park, meet Anchorman. That's the immediate vibe I got after watching this. I think Generation X has an interesting choice to make when it comes time to decide whether or not to support this. On the one hand, they found Will Ferrell, and used to hold him in high regard for making Saturday Night Live funny and for giving them Old School and Anchorman. But then he kept the formula going without mixing it up at all. A backlash began, and he currently sits on the down side of the log flume. Hasn't hit the water yet, but it's looming. Then you have the fond memories of the cheesy Land of the Lost television show. Corny, but what Saturday morning television wasn't?

And now the two have mixed.

Will we get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ending, or a Koolaid Pickle? We'll know soon enough. The trailer did seem to have many of the same characteristics as the cheesy tv show, which is a promising start.

Grade: B

Year One

Yeah, not looking too good. There's really no synopsis of what the movie's about which can't be good. And neither Jack Black nor Michael Cera are going to be able to carry a movie. Not only did I not laugh at all, I'm still trying to figure out the humor of the scene in which they show excitement after the ox starts pulling their cart. What is funny about that at all? I realize the joke might need some setup, but if that's the case then don't include it in a Super Bowl tease of your movie.

Grade: F-

Angels and Demons

At least Hanks got a better haircut for this one.

Grade: D

Monsters vs. Aliens

Dreamworks' answer to Pixar and they've been doing a fairly decent job. No one's going to confuse the two, but there's room in the market for both.

That said, I think this trailer blew Up out of the water. At least from a marketing standpoint. I realize Up was simply a tease to let us know about the world of the next Pixar. But I think it was too much of a tease. While Mvs.A may have given a little too much away, I still think it works because everyone knows exactly what to expect walking in to the theater. It has humor, action, and a plot. Paper thin perhaps, but it's there.

Not to mention it's about aliens and monsters.

It's interesting to see the two different strategies at play here. Methinks there's a thesis paper for some marketing student in here. Ok, at least a term paper.

Grade: B+

Fast and Furious

Cars, Vin Diesel and a whole lot of awesome. You're a headless zombie if you go into this not knowing what to expect. A dumb, headless zombie.

Grade A+ (x a billion)

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

I saw about a third of the first Transformers movie, and will admit to being pleasantly surprised. The interaction between people and robots seemed realistic - as realistic as the implausible scenario allows. Megan Fox(y)'s presence certainly doesn't hurt anything either.

The trailer for the sequel doesn't offer us much other than let us know the cast is back for another round, and there's a bigger, meaner Transformer that seems to dwarf Optimus Prime. Honestly, the trailer didn't look all that great from an aesthetic point of view. Blurry in most parts and very disjointed - and that's saying something with a Michael Bay movie. Despite that, I'm guessing it's probably going to be like the first one, just with more Transformers. If that's your cup of tea, then you should be happy.

Grade: C+

GI Joe

First, a little backstory...

I'm not going to lie...I was (ok am) a huge GI Joe fan. As a child I enjoyed playing War, and GI Joe gave the soldiers an individuality (as well as cool weapons) that I bought into. The surprisingly complex back story the comic books and cartoons fleshed out only helped.

So of course I was frightened when I heard they were turning it into a movie.

Look, I get that older people (I'm including myself) want to see their childhood toys become a facsimile of their memories on the silver screen. Nothing would please me more to see a gritty, super violent GI Joe movie with real consequences (and real physics - which we'll address). But I also understand that Hollywood's bottom line is about the bottom line, so they have to craft a movie that today's youth will gobble up.

So, how does the trailer stand up?

First of all, this trailer is very Baroness centric. Which is cool, since the Baroness probably led many a young boy, hand in hand into the age of adulthood. Still, she was a minor character in the GI Joe universe. I'm afraid they might be "bulking" her presence up to sell us a spandex clad superbabe - which makes my brain so conflicted. Let's just hope she's a good villainess for the Joes to deal with.

Second of all - no silver head Destro? I can only hope some Joe (please let it be Shipwreck, please let it be Shipwreck) does something at the end of the movie to melt Destro's pretty boy looks, forcing him to don the silver head for the sequel.

The Joes look generic - everyone knows Snake Eyes was/is/will always be the coolest Joe. But why everyone has to now mimic is look is going to make it harder to distinguish individuals on the screen.

The action looks cartoonish, which CGI gives us the capability to create, but why? Why must it become exaggerated to the point of absurdity? It's no longer based in reality. I'm not talking Saving Private Ryan, but there has to be a balance everyone can strike.

Regardless of how generic or hokey, or silly, or implausible the trailer looks however, I can't help but be excited for this one. Though I do wish it had a few more elements as this trailer I found on youtube...

Official trailer Grade: B-

Unofficial youtube trailer Grade: A+ (x one billion -1. Nothing beats Fast and Furious. Nothing.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I swear to God.

Super BOWL.
Super BOWL.
Super BOWL.

Just like it isn't the Fiestabowl, or the Orangebowl, or the Rosebowl.