Trailers of the Week: 4:44 Last Day on Earth, The Raid: Redemption, Neighborhood Watch, and More

4:44 Last Day on Earth (March 23)

Silver: “It’s an end-of-days movie, written and directed by Abel Ferrara.” Now that’s a statement that separates 4:44 Last Day on Earth from the glut of other apocalyptic thrillers thrust upon us (seemingly) once a month.

After such affirming and sunny features (kidding) as Bad Lieutenant and King of New York, it’ll be interesting to see what Ferrara does with the topic of Judgment Day. And for good measure, he’s even brought along Mr. Creepy himself (a.k.a. Willem Dafoe) to sprinkle in some crucial bug-eyed gawking.

Jibes aside, I actually kind of dug this trailer, and am sincerely intrigued by this film. I’ve always thought there are two ways to make a good sci-fi horror/thriller: (1) straight fun (Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead), or (2) use the subject matter as a way to comment on society (George Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead). It appears Ferrara took this metaphor-ripe material and went with option no. 2, and, at least based on the trailer, seems to say that we civilization are on our last breath … and that we had it coming. Now that’s an Abel Farrara movie.

Browne:When the phrase “today it doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have, we are all about to face the same fate at the same moment” was stated, this film immediately had my attention. That’s the opposite of every “the world is ending” film that’s come out, in preparation for the real thing, because the premise of each previous has been “today, if you live in the right place or have seven billion dollars, you can secure yourself a different fate on an ark or a spaceship, unlike the rest of the common folk.” Bravo, Mr. Ferrara, for finally keeping it real with us. I can’t wait for this.

The Raid: Redemption (March 23)

Browne:In this trailer, we see a SWAT team attempting to raid a housing complex run by a mob boss. Thankfully for the viewer, this mob boss can see their every move and has an army of goons who specialize in hand-to-hand-to-death combat. The end result: what appears to be a two-hour continuous action sequence. I’ve said too much. Just watch it; words can’t do this justice after seeing that last beat-down. Silver, I’m sure you can muster five paragraphs about this; you’re Dan Silver, maker of paragraphs.

Silver: If there was ever a trailer where I should just shut up and let it speak for itself, it’s this one. #awesomesauce

BUT, I can’t help myself, and need to just say these two quick things …

• Watch the trailer all the way to the end. That last beat-down is tremendous. I can’t wait to see how it plays into the movie.

The Raid: Redemption feels like it’s the next great Asian action film to get parsed up and appropriated by pedestrian music-video-turned-feature-film directors (forget Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, just watch John Woo’s The Killer, Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2 and you’ll see what I mean).

Wrath of the Titans – Trailer #2 (March 30)

Silver: It would not be fair for me to weigh in on Wrath of the Titans, as I regrettably did not see the original. I don’t want to take the chance of misreading the subtle visual nuances connecting Clash with Wrath, and I’m certainly not going to try to comment on the complicated and textured storyline.

Oh wait, I forgot, this is Clash of the Titans. I don’t care about any of that. This is as blatant a money grab, disguised as an orgy of computer-generated visuals and sound, as the original Avatar. I have the same level of interest in Wrath as I did in its predecessor: zero.

Browne: Silver, we’ve been over this. Wrath of the Titans = THE FIRST TWO-SIDED MONSTER IN WORLD HISTORY. Of course this movie will be horrible, but we owe it to her to support this film. We can’t let her have a dynamic debut, get typecast, and slowly fizzle out. She needs us. We failed with Gabourey. We can’t with Two-Sided Monster.

The Deep Blue Sea – Trailer #2 (March 23)

Silver: The names Scorsese, Allen, Anderson, and Tarantino would likely be the first ones that come to mind when discussing directors who’ve mastered the use of previously recorded music in their films. Not only to complement and heighten the emotional stakes, but in some cases to become as much of a character as the performers on-screen (“Stuck in the Middle” will never be separated from Reservoir Dogs and “Sister Christian” is eternally linked to Boogie Nights).

The British writer/director Terence Davies is not as well known as the gentlemen above, but I’d argue that he should be on that list as well (watch 1998’s Distant Voices, Still Lives). Like The Deep Blue Sea, most of Davies’s films are period pieces, yet they’ve never felt stuffy and erudite. Inevitably, he finds a way to let his films play out on a narrative plane that is relevant to his modern audiences. And much of this success is due to his use of archival music. He uses it in such a way that it creates a symphony-like feel to his films, and yet never overshadows the drama unfolding on the screen. Though the trailer for his latest doesn’t help it stand out, I’m more than willing to give this film the benefit of the doubt.

Browne: Am I supposed to be an adult here and pretend that while this beautiful trailer is playing, complete with its elegant piano and exquisite lighting, I’m not thinking about Samuel Jackson getting engulfed by a shark? Call me rude, but 12 years is not enough time for me to go from Deep Blue Sea to The Deep Blue Sea. I’m SORRY.

Piranha 3DD (April 5)

Silver: I believe the following to be a fact:

Since the genre of horror is (unfortunately, regrettably, and shamefully) seen as a more exploitative, less lucrative, and lazier form of filmmaking, in the rare cases when a horror film achieves success with both critics and fans, there will always come a point when the filmmakers/producers discuss a sequel. This is the moment when the powers that be have to decide if they’re going to spend the time, effort, and resources to equal, if not dare to exceed, the quality of the original (see Scream 2), or just idly up the gore and boldness to make an easy buck.

So after the success of 2010’s Piranha 3D, what were the brothers Weinstein going to do? Alexander Aja’s original (remake) was a cheeky homage to B-level horror films from the past. It was made clear from the very first scene when Richard Dreyfuss, dressed as Hooper from Jaws, was eaten alive while singing the Orca’s anthem, “Show Me the Way to Go Home.”

Based on the latest trailer, it’s clear they’ve chosen the latter of the two options with Piranha 3DD. The film was directed by Project Greenlight castoff John Gulager, and will no doubt feature tour-de-force performances from Christopher Lloyd, David Hasselhoff, and Gary Busey. I mean … come on … the film takes place at a water park and the killer fish are seen swimming into people’s tubs and in their bodies. (Yes, I said “IN their bodies.”)

After two trailers intrinsically tying the somewhat clever title to a memorable visual cue (just watch the trailer and you’ll see what I mean), and by drafting off the success of the original (remake), Piranha 3DD will most likely do solid business. Which in turn will lead to another dumbed-down sequel. Maybe by Piranha 3DD/E/F, where the fish can walk on land and hunt Scott Baio and Nicole Eggert (Charles in Charge reunion alert), then maybe they’ll get me back in the theater.

Browne:I’m going to go light on words here, and simply say that I fully support everything that happened in this trailer. Naming it Piranha 3DD — yes. Showing us double Ds every time they say “3DD” — absolutely. Having David Hasselhoff make Baywatch references — duh. Paying Ving Rhames a ton of money to play a guy with no legs who, thankfully, has machine gun prosthetics — 100 percent. I can’t wait to round up as many friends as I can, dominate the back two rows of the movie theater, then talk and laugh throughout this entire film. This is movie magic at its finest.

Neighborhood Watch (July 27)

Silver: If the pedigree behind Neighborhood Watch weren’t so awesome I’d lambaste this trailer and stamp the film this summer’s lock for T.O.A. (Turd On Arrival). But given that it was written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (Superbad) and directed by Akiva Schaffer (of The Lonely Island and the underrated Hot Rod fame), I’m going to choose to view the “badass/hero treatment of losers” gag that takes up the majority of this trailer as a clever take on a small yet memorable scene from Training Day instead of a sad retread of a tired gag. Even with their recent misfires, I know both Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn can still throw comedic heat. Especially when playing together (see Dodge Ball and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments in Zoolander and Anchorman). And this film looks to prolong my recent (and personally surprising) love affair with Jonah Hill. It’s also nice to see British funnyman/auteur Richard Ayoade get a chance to showcase himself.

Browne: Silver, I’m so happy we can see a trailer and think of the same thing. As soon as this spot began and I saw a car blasting “Still D.R.E.,” I was confused because I thought Denzel made it clear that it was never to be duplicated. But after seeing the whole trailer, I get it and I’m elated. On their own, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill can make a subpar movie, but together their collective talents have to result in something good. Also, this trailer shows one of the most underrated comedy shticks of all time: being given confusing, often contradictory instructions. Skinny Jonah nails it, in a way only matched by chubby Jonah.

The Avengers (May 4)

Since we’ve already touched on The Avengers a few times, we’re going to go with a single phrase to sum up our feelings for this latest trailer.

Silver: “Joy-gasm.”

Browne:“Sex Panther.”

Filed Under: The Avengers, Trailers of the Week, Wrath of the Titans

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert