Trailers of the Week: August: Osage County, Fruitvale Station, Last Vegas, and More

Riddick (September 6)

Silver: The Chronicles of Riddick’s box office catastrophe lost Vin Diesel all the equity he’d acquired after The Fast and the Furious (having already spent a significant amount of it on the lackluster xXx, which landed in between FF 1 and Chronicles). He practically became a Hollywood pariah, forced to take on roles like Shane Wolfe in The Pacifier — the special ops stud who’s a fish out of water working his new assignment as a bodyguard to a suburban family. You know, roles normally reserved for professional wrestlers trying to break into mainstream film or for action stars on the decline. It wasn’t until he slipped the shiny-white, two-sizes-too-small, Hanes V-neck back over his head and returned to the Fast and Furious franchise as Dominic Toretto did audiences start caring about him again.

So my question is this: Why go back to the role that practically sunk his career? Is it hubris? Or is it that he and writer-director David Twohy believe that they can actually recapture the simplistic terror of Riddick’s first onscreen appearance in Pitch Black, and not recycle the monotonously bloated Chronicles?

I’d like to believe it’s the former. And this trailer provides evidence that this might actually be the case. Like Pitch Black, the story appears to be focused and small — a group of mercenaries hunt down Riddick on a desolate planet, only to be pursued themselves by the nasty indigenous aliens — and the action intense. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck (better known as Katee Sackhoff) is one of the aforementioned mercenaries. Always nice to see her frakking around with a gun.

I’m as surprised as anyone that I’ve actually come around to semi-caring about this film. But I truly did like what I saw here.

Browne: First off, please have some respect, Dan, and refer to Katee Sackhoff as 24’s Dana Walsh. Secondly, I’m not seeing this film. Why would I do anything to ruin the fantastic run I’m having with biweekly trailers starring Dom Toretto?

 

Rio 2 (April 11, 2014)

Browne: So there was a first Rio, I’m guessing …

Silver: I never saw the first Rio, and to be honest, I can’t even remember when it was released or anything about its marketing. The only reason why I knew this film existed is because I voraciously played the Rio version of Angry Birds on my iPhone. But in this day and age, a $485M worldwide haul off a $90M budget certainly does warrant a sequel.

This is clearly one of those meaningless “made for cinemas” teasers: jettisoned onto highly impressionable children who will not actually care about this film until closer to its release, and will most likely forget about it as soon as the next preview starts. If anything, a teaser like this is Hollywood’s way of torturing the parents sitting with said children. Because with almost a year till the release, after seeing this teaser, parents are turned into the rope-bound damsel in distress laid upon the train tracks, and Rio 2 is the slow-moving and unstoppable train that will inevitably crush them with boredom and woe.

 

Pacific Rim (July 12)

Silver: I was genuinely shocked at the sudden lack of enthusiasm for Pacific Rim after Rem and I went on about the WonderCon trailer a few weeks back.

In this current cinema landscape, Pacific Rim IS the quintessential summer movie, people! Sure, it’s giant frakking robots fighting giant frakking monsters. But instead of being filled with vapid Bay-hem, this film is being helmed by a legit visionary who’s finally playing with toys the size of his imagination and creativity. This film is intended to be experienced on a screen the size of the monsters and robots it’s presenting, in an air-conditioned theater when it’s 96 degrees outside, with a vat of chemically flavored popcorn, and the speakers turned up to 11. Quit your whining and just buy a ticket. I have nothing else to say about this film. Trust me, it’s going to kick ass.

Browne: I’m going to hate-watch this film in theaters. I’m going to purposefully have a horrible day, order some food at the theaters that I know is not on the menu, and stomp toward my dumb front-row seat, drinkless and foodless, ready to watch Pacific Rim. If I walk out with a smile on my face, then, and only then, will I say something nice about this movie. Can’t wait.

 

August: Osage County (November 8 )

Silver: There’s no denying that August: Osage County is overflowing with respectability, considering the cast (20 Oscar nominations and five wins among them; 14 noms and three wins for Streep alone), the producers (Clooney, Heslov, Weinstein, Doumanian), the director (who’s taking a break from his reign as king of prime-time television and slumming it in the cinemas), and the Pulitzer Prize–winning source material.

So why is this trailer so awful?

From its very first moments, with the sounds of rolling thunder, the ominous guitar melody, and Sam Shepard quoting T.S. Eliot, August: Osage County feels more like a sequel to Friday Night Lights than it does a pitch-black comedy about a dysfunctional family. Where’s the funny? I’d accept that with a cast like this, a smart move would be to gravitate the trailer toward the heavy drama, but I didn’t even see any of that in this trailer.

All this said, I have no doubts in the strength of this film. I’m just shocked at how far off the mark this trailer is.

(Side note: Given that Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, and Benedict Cumberbatch are in this film, I might actually need to see this film with a defibrillator nearby.)

Browne: The line about the husband killing himself was pretty great, though. But none of it matters, really. I don’t think they should release any more trailers. They should just list the actors and the stats like on a baseball card and tell everyone when and where to show up. It’s that stacked.

 

Fruitvale Station (July 12 — limited)

Silver: I don’t need, nor do I want, to see or know more about Fruitvale Station. I’m sold. Like Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, or Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Fruitvale Station feels like the kind of film wherein a director plants his or her flag and signals to us all that he or she has arrived, and we best be prepared because we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him or her in years to come.

With this first feature, writer-director Ryan Coogler appears to have put together a chilling, engrossing, and potentially gut-wrenching modern morality tale. And placing the heavy lifting on the shoulders of Michael B. Jordan was an inspired choice. Jordan has proven himself more than capable by butting heads with Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights and delivering a standout performances in Chronicle.

Buckle up. This should be a good one.

Browne: My immediate takeaways: I’m a bit lost, but in a good way; Michael B. Jordan’s mid-20s mustache reminds me of Denzel’s mid-20s mustache; this might be the trailer with the most camera phone sightings ever.

I’m thrilled for this.

 

About Time (November 1 limited, November 8 )

Silver: After reading the ho-hum, too-familiar log line (at the age of 21, Tim is told an incredible family secret by his father — that all the men in his family have the ability to time-travel; he can relive any moment in his life to try things differently until he gets them right), I was surprised that this endearing and often funny trailer was for the same film. Then I noted that About Time was written and directed by Richard Curtis, and immediately this film became something more than a potential “gimme VOD” selection for my wife on a lazy Saturday night.

Either as a writer, or a director, or both, for almost two decades Curtis has exported some of the best comedy films Britain has had to offer: Bean, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, the Bridget Jones films, and Pirate Radio, to name a few. I’ve always admired Curtis. And I’ve noted his success here in the States, which I believe was due in some small part to his ability to always infuse American sensibilities into his films, either by including an American character or by casting an American to play a Brit.

Although About Time has some familiar elements, I believe that Curtis will deliver a film that will be both earnest, honest, and never too sappy.

Browne: For two minutes, Rachel McAdams out-bangs and out-whismies Zooey Deschanel at the height of her whimsical bangs phase. I’m very impressed. I will see this film out of respect for that achievement.

 

As I Lay Dying (TBD)

Silver: Love him or hate him, I think it’s fair to say that James Franco does not shy away from a challenge. After some smaller, more narrowly appealing directorial efforts, Franco steps into the quasi-mainstream as writer and director of an adaption of a William Faulkner book. No small feat. Some might call this pretentious, but I’m calling it bold. With Franco’s schizophrenic sensibilities, who knows what we’re going to get? As I Lay Dying could be a solid indication of a career transition point, or it could just be Brown Bunny. Regardless, I’m intrigued.

Browne: “Why not?” — my reaction to everything James Franco has done, is doing, and will continue to do.

 

V/H/S 2 — Red Band Trailer (VERY NSFW) (June 6 — VOD / July 12 — Theaters)

Silver: What the hell is this? Why would I want to see more? And, can this really be called a horror film?

My track record as an ardent supporter of horror movies is well documented, to the point where I’ve been known to go to the (geek) mat in support of the genre because I truly believe that visual filmmaking at its purest can be found in a great horror film. Framing, editing, lighting, and music are the tools that have been so brilliantly manipulated by masters like Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Fisher, Polanski, Powell, Young, Carpenter, Craven, and, although bloody as hell, both Argento and Romero.

So really, what is there to V/H/S 2 other than a series of shocking and exploitative images? It’s films like this that give horror a bad name. This is a big and unequivocal no thank you.

Browne: I care even less about V/H/S 2 than Rio 2. That is not a nice thing to say.

 

Last Vegas (November 1)

Silver: This one’s pretty simple. If you don’t want to see this movie, there’s something seriously wrong with you. Screw originality. And don’t you worry about the pride of these four Oscar winners. These are four of the most entertaining actors (of our parents’ generation) in a mash-up of The Hangover, Bachelor Party, Very Bad Things, Grumpy Old Men, and The Bucket List. It’s just nice to see Kevin Kline in anything. I want to see the extended sequence of Morgan Freeman drinking Red Bull and vodkas. Mom and Dad, this one’s on me.

Browne: So at first, I was all mad because of this:

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 3.14.18 PM

But then that Morgan Freeman blackout dance monologue happened, and now I’m counting down the days until this comes out.

Filed Under: James Franco, Pacific Rim, Trailers of the Week

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert