Trailer Trashing


by James Killough

If I had gone by the trailer alone, I would never have seen The Avengers, just as I never saw Thor or Captain America.  These films aren’t made with me in mind, so why should I shell out sixteen bucks even for my favorite seat, C-22 in the middle of the handicapped section at the Arclight Hollywood?  Much as I love movies, that would be the definition of dysfunctional behavior.

Michael Fassbender: Android perfection. Photo: Sebastian Kim 

I was just going to let Eric Baker review The Avengers until it became clear almost two weeks ago that it was a juggernaut that was going to make film history, and that suddenly turned it from an ordinary early summer blockbuster into an event this blog had to cover.

Did we need to dedicate a whole week to it?  No, but that’s just the way the pieces fell into place: all three main contributors on PFC wanted to write about it in some way.

Some movies cut into trailers better than others, but by and large you can tell from those two minutes of sample images and dialogue whether or not you want to see it, which is what a trailer is for, of course.  And that has to be the most ‘duh’ sentence I’ve ever written in this blog.

Having said that, there are a few movies I wouldn’t have seen based on their trailers, but which ended up being pretty good once I read more about them and saw the whole thing.  Both Sound of My Voice and Avengers are recent examples.

Here’s a Top 5 of upcoming releases that I either will or won’t see based on trailers or other snippets floating around the Innernet:

Hysteria — Probably Won’t See

“But, James,” you say aghast, while you screw the top back on the lube.  “Hysteria is all costume drama and stuff, and it’s about sex.  You like sex.”  Actually, it appears from the trailer to be about female masturbation with mechanized feather dusters.  I’m very specific about the kind of sex I like, and it’s not that.


Aside from the rather retro, Erica Jong subject—i.e., the elusive female orgasm—Hysteria looks middlebrow and farcical, and that’s too dull for the theater.  It seems downright silly in that uniquely British adult-comic fnarr-fnarr “let’s make fun of your discomfort and sexual awkwardness” way, which means little to an American whose idea of a hang-up is a sling dangling from the dungeon ceiling.

Despite the fact that it stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, whom I have loved since she played the masochist in a truly seductive film, Secretary, she is cancelled out by Rupert Everett, who has started to annoy me in many ways both personal and professional over the past few years.  And the lead is Hugh Dancy, whom I know to be incredibly cheap because we belonged to the same drinking club in London and nobody could nurse a glass of water until someone took pity and bought him a cocktail quite like Hugh.  Which is not something one should care about when selecting a film, but when you’re sitting on the fence about seeing it every detail counts.

However, note that I’m saying I “probably won’t see” this.  Information may come to light after it opens this weekend that will persuade me otherwise.  Doubt it.

Snow White and the Huntsman — Will See

Had you asked me a year or so ago, I would have said “pfft” to Huntsman mainly because my friend Tarsem was directing the rival Snow White project, Mirror, Mirror, and after seeing the trailer for that I decided it was going to be genius visuals and a lot of laughs, which Huntsman could never match.  Then came the first trailer for Huntsman, which betrayed a certain potential kickass-ness, followed by a second with more special effects betraying undeniable kickass-ness, then finally this music video by Florence and the Machine came out a few days ago and that sealed the deal for me:


My guilty secret is I really like Kristen Stewart.  Hear me out.  You need to see her in Jake Scott’s Welcome to the Rileys, a little film by Scott Family standards (Jake is the son of Ridley, nephew of Tony), that showed Stewart has a lot of potential, if not a lot of intensity masquerading as potential.  The bit when she snips at James Gandolfini’s character about the difference between male and female crotch smells is well worth waiting for the film to download.  I mean, well worth waiting for the Netflix DVD in the mail, sorry.

And Charlize.  Oh, Charlize.  The Faye Dunaway of her generation.  As one of Dunaway’s former stalkees, I would rather starve than have dinner with an actress like her much less work with her, but Charlize is such a wicked delight to watch on screen, especially swathed in tasteful VFX.

Prometheus — Oh, Yeah

I was going to put ‘duh’ after the title, but I felt badly having already used that once in a PFC blog post, much less twice.  However, we are talking about summer movies, so a certain puerile vocab is allowed.  (Note to Me: Must write verbose post on how some teen slang hasn’t changed in forty years, yet it’s still slang.)

If you haven’t already seen the trailer it can only be because you are still so traumatized by Ridley Scott’s first Alien, a film that was so fucking scary my father insisted on taking me to see it, which means it was off-the-charts scary for its time.  Perhaps he thought it might scare me straight, so to speak.  All that happened was it convinced me once and for all that vaginas have teeth.  Lots of them, rows of them.

This gentler, more Wallpaper Magazine faux commercial for Weyland Corp. Androids starring Michael Fassbender may entice you further, even though frankly the thirty-second version would have been more kicker, as they say in the advertising world:



The Dictator — Definitely Won’t See

Dictator opens tomorrow, and it’s tracking much worse than industry experts expected.  But not worse than I expected since first being subjected to both the trailer and Sacha Baron Cohen’s shenanigans so many months ago that it feels like years by now.  It got to the point where if the trailer for Dictator came on before a movie I instinctively played a game on my BlackBerry just so I wouldn’t have to watch this “hot mess,” as Tuttle likes to say.

The trailer is so lame, so reminiscent of Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America that I’m not even going to insert it in a PFC post.  Rather, I’ll remind you of a time when Cohen was not just funny, but snorting-diet-soda-out-of-my-nose hilarious:


Cohen has sadly succumbed to a viral case of studioitis, an insidious, seductive disease in which innovative creativity crumbles under the lethargic weight of too much “scope” and relentless tinkering in order to make it fit as many audience niches as possible so as to recoup on an unreasonable budget.  Having said that, the trailer still got a few chuckles from the audience when I saw Avengers last week, which just goes to show neither the studios nor Cohen care if I see it.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter — Probably…

… will see, not in the theater, but on my next sixteen-hour non-stop Emirates flight to Dubai, after I watch Hysteria.  Or maybe before Hysteria.  It’ll be the kind of decision I’ll make right after I choose the beef stew over the Indian vegetarian meal, much as I know the latter will be tastier; Indian food makes for better airline meals. (Note to Me: Must write even more verbose post on how Indian food travels better. Include recipes along with funny videos of Gujarati housewives preparing daal.)

Is it just me who is getting a faint whiff of John Carter about ALVH?  To quote Scooby Doo, “Ruh-oh”:


This is probably Part One of an ongoing series over the summer.  Are we getting shorter and snappier with the PFC posts?  You betcha. Any less verbose? Um…

Comment: 1

  • ericjbaker May 15, 20127:42 pm

    I got a woody over the Prometheus trailer, and I didn’t even like the trailer that much. Alien is what horror films should be. If RS recaptures just a bit of that, I’m a happy movie watcher.

    There was no way in hell was going to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Then I saw the trailer and said, “No friggin’ way in hell I’m seeing that.” Meanwhile, the part of me that doesn’t talk but knows what I want before the rest of me does, thought, “You are so going to see that.” Kristen Stewart does have an appealing quality that I can’t put my finger on. I’m there.

    As someone who is a fan of early 70s trash horror and blaxploitation movies, I can promise that there are many film for which the 2-minute trailer is easily better than the actual film. Case in point: Three on a Meathook is an unwatchable movie with a highly amusing trailer.

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