Trailers of the Week: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Cloud Atlas, Taken 2, and More

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (January 11)

Silver: Let me give you a brief look into my brain. When I lie down at night, I don’t think about what went on that day, or what might happen the next — I don’t even think about my wife and kid. I think about what actors/actresses working now would be good fits for remakes of some of my favorite films (for instance, I think a younger Jim Carrey as Hooper, Don Cheadle as Brody, and Liam Neeson as Quint would be great for a remake of Jaws). The character and actor I had the hardest time separating was Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead’s Ash (for the obvious reasons). Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog had me thinking Nathan Fillion could probably do a solid job, but after seeing the trailer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, I’m now convinced that Jeremy Renner would be perfect (FYI … I know there’s a remake of E.D. coming, but Ash isn’t in it). Renner delivers every line in this trailer so seriously, yet so clearly with tongue firmly in cheek. The Internet kind of hated on this trailer this week, and for good reason: It sells the film as a straight-up action/horror flick. But look closer. Gary Sanchez Productions (i.e., Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, and Chris Henchy) developed this project and are credited as producers. So my expectations are more Army of Darkness and less Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I’ve now watched this trailer three times, and have laughed harder with each viewing. If Renner at any point in the film says, “Come get some!,” I think I’ll just lose it.

Browne: I shot myself in the foot on December 22, 2011, regarding Wrath of the Titans by saying, “I want to see any past films with two-sided monsters, ASAP.” I then went on to discuss the unstoppable nature of the two-sided monster and how, even in the worst film, I would want to visually experience any film containing said beast. Enter the miserable-looking Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

I guess I’ll see you in January …

The Bay (November 2)

Silver: Every time I want to officially place the death nail in the found-footage genre casket (I still cringe when I refer to it as a “genre,” but unfortunately, I believe this now to be the case), a great film that can’t be ignored, like Chronicle, comes along. Director Barry Levinson, who’s won one Oscar and been nominated for five more, continues his Howard Hawks–esque career* by helming The Bay. So even if the film stinks, for film fans, this is another one that can’t be overlooked. I for one am keenly interested to see how Levinson incorporates his usually methodical style into such a visually messy form. There are some genuinely disturbing moments in this trailer, so maybe, like Chronicle, Levinson can keep found-footage films alive for a little while longer. Hooray! (Said with an immensely sarcastic and detached inflection.)

*So why is Barry Levinson like Howard Hawks? Starting in the mid-to-late 1920s and all the way through the early 1970s, Hawks was known as a Hollywood director who made a film in almost every genre. And regardless of how they were received, it’s clear that Levinson has been playing in a lot of genre sandboxes for most of his career. To name just a few, The Natural (sports), Rain Man (drama), Good Morning, Vietnam (melodrama), Toys (experimental?), Disclosure (sexual thriller), Avalon (whimsical), Bugsy (Oscar worthy), Sleepers (Oscar fodder), Young Sherlock Holmes (kiddie), Wag the Dog (political satire), Sphere (popcorn), Bandits (forgettable), and Envy (comedy AND embarrassing bomb). So with The Bay, Levinson can now add horror and low-budget cash grab to the list.

Browne: I wish they’d stop making movies that made me terrified to do things I love, like, you know, “swim.” And “sleep.” And “live.”

Cloud Atlas (October 26)

Silver: Tom Tykwer’s and the Wachowskis’ best films are the ones with the simplest and least nuanced stories. Visual composition, sequential construction, and specific narrative flourishes aside, Run Lola Run (Tykwer) is three tales about a girl trying to help her boyfriend get out of trouble, Bound (the Wachowskis) is about a low-level heist, and even The Matrix is just an update of classic Greek hero mythology. But it’s films like Perfume: The Story of a Murder, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions where Tykwer’s and the Wachowskis’ never-in-doubt visual styles can’t cover up their ineffectiveness as complex storytellers. So without even mentioning that I have no idea how a single film (not an anthology) will be handled by three directors, I’ll be coming to Cloud Atlas with many doubts. Ah, but there’s the rub: I will be coming to Cloud Atlas regardless. Everything previously mentioned aside, it’s exciting to see filmmakers put themselves out there and take big swings. Even if they miss.

Browne: When I saw the title “Cloud Atlas Trailer #2″ I expected it to be 27 minutes long and somehow incorporate scenes from the Crusades, the year 3412, the 1986 slam-dunk contest, and the story of Job. None of that happened. I’m very disappointed.

A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman (TBD)

Browne: Dan, you’ve got the conch. Freestyle. Go full Bill Clinton on these fools.

Silver: And (in what seems like a weekly installment) let’s now discuss another über-geeky fringe-film trailer.

In 1980 Graham Chapman published an unusual autobiography. It wasn’t just written by him, or even him and a co-writer, it was composed by five different authors all interpreting Chapman’s life. This could be considered strange, but what would you expect from one of the founding members of Monty Python? The whole truth? I’m sure some of the truth is both in the book and in his doc, but I’m also fairly certain that aliens, time travel, and esteemed religious figures doing silly things also come into play. From the looks of the trailer, this quasi-doc takes the structure and spirit of the multi-voiced book and adapts it nicely into a film. I’m sure anyone’s life would feel like a piece of Terry Gilliam animation if seen through the Python prism. But when told by friends like Cleese, Idol, Jones, Palin, and the aforementioned Gilliam, I’m assuming Chapman’s life will be much more entertaining.

The Iceman (TBD)

Silver: Let’s give Michael Shannon some credit. This is a guy who understands the career adage “Stay in your lane.” After garnering an Oscar nomination for playing a super-creepy dude in Revolutionary Road, he could have easily parlayed that into larger and higher-profile roles. But instead, he opted to play another super-creepy dude in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Since Revolutionary Road, he’s had a few bit parts here and there, and even a few starring ones (last year’s excellent Take Shelter) where he’s shown us his range as a performer. And The Iceman appears to be a perfect blend of both a starring role perfectly suited for an Oscar nominee and one where Shannon can really wave his freak flag. For all I know, Shannon might be a sweet and nice guy, but on screen, he IS and DOES creepy better than almost anyone working today. And he’s smart enough to know there’s always money being shelled out in Hollywood for nuanced and talented heavies. He’ll next be seen in the hilariously silly role of General Zod in the reboot of Superman.

Browne: This movie is not about George Gervin. I clicked “play” thinking it was a film about George Gervin. I’m very glad that this “based on a true story” film about a guy who killed 100 people over a 22-year span is starring Michael Shannon and not a guy who’s supposed to be George Gervin.

Taken 2 (October 5)

Silver: Taken 3 should just be Neeson talking. When shot and acted exactly as the first nine seconds of this trailer, Neeson can talk about anything — buying groceries, cleaning his garage, tracking down and killing gangs of thugs armed only with a knife — and I’d be first in line to see the film. I’ve said it before, and I’m going to keep saying it till I get it: Can someone please cast Neeson and Jason Statham in a film together? And have it be one of these “they’re enemies at first, then have to team up to fight a greater evil” movies? This way we get them fighting each other, then fighting together. Shivers. #awesomesauce. I need this. I really need this.

Browne: Dan, you’re a first-nine-seconds kind of guy, but I’m a last-seven-seconds dude. Hearing badass Liam Neeson say “tweet hashtag” is probably my trailer-watching highlight of 2012.

Filed Under: Taken 2, The Iceman, Trailers of the Week

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Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert