Trailers of the Week: Les Misérables, The Grandmaster, Side Effects, and More

World War Z (June 21)

Silver: This is almost unbelievable. World War Z is a $100 million-plus major studio summer tentpole staring one of the world’s biggest stars, and there isn’t a single original or unique moment in its first trailer. The drama around the release date delay and extensive reshoots aside, this film appears to be a greatest-hits version of Roland Emmerich’s filmography:

  • Characters sitting in gridlock moments before all hell breaks loose.
  • Widespread panic in urban areas.
  • Ditching one car and finding an abandoned RV that somehow still works and is able to be navigated through the thousands of other cars trying to escape the pandemonium.
  • The cell phone call to the “exposition-ready” government employee best friend. (And for those of us who just lived through Sandy, this moment is even more inexplicable because there’s no way Mr. Pitt could have found a cell signal in the middle of that mayhem.)
  • The miraculous and death-defying escape from impending doom (i.e., rooftop helicopter rescue).
  • A military enterprise made up of whatever soldiers and machinery is still standing.
  • A civilian being recruited and asked to leave his family behind and risk his life because he has either distinct knowledge or a certain set of skills that can save all of humanity.
  • Operatic wide shots of destruction and mass hysteria.

So, minus the fast zombies (lifted from Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead) and excluding The PatriotWorld War Z is a bouillabaisse of Stargate, Independence DayGodzillaThe Day After Tomorrow10,000 BC2012, and Anonymous.

If this trailer has done anything, it’s inspired me to finally read Max (Son of Mel) Brooks’s (I know, right?) book. I’ve only heard great things about it, and based on this trailer, it’s a pretty safe assumption it’ll be 1,000 times more satisfying than its cinematic adaptation.

Browne: You just said, “World War Z is a bouillabaisse of StargateIndependence DayGodzillaThe Day After Tomorrow10,000 BC2012, and Anonymous.”


You’re talking to the guy who, 15 years later, can still watch Volcano three times a week, gets the chills thinking that next month we’re going to have to reserve spots on an ark (2012), and will argue to the death that Independence Day is the blockbuster of the 1990s. Disaster movies are for me what horror movies are for others. They scare me, rattle my very core (even though I know they are fictional), and even the very worst will receive my undivided attention. So yeah, speak of bouillabaisses all you want, this is about to be my JAM. Oh, and Long Hair, Don’t Care Papa Pitt saving the world? Yes. I will sign off on that as something I approve of.


Les Misérables (December 25)

Silver: Can this film just come out already?! Instead of tearing up in front of my co-workers, I’d like to openly bawl in a safe space with a group of like-minded musical-theater geeks. The more I see of it, the more I love Tom Hooper’s decision to have the performers sing on set. You can really sense the emotion in the performers’ voices. And with this trailer, we finally get our first audible proof that Russell Crowe can sing. After seeing a recent TV spot for the film, my wife turned to me and said, “I’m putting the over/under on your crying during this movie at 4. And guess what, you’re doing that on your own; I’m seeing this without you.” Rem … Can I wipe my tears on your shirtsleeve?

Browne: Of course you can, Dan, seeing as that I will not need said sleeves for tears, because I will be weeping into a bucket. I’m going to be a complete mess throughout this film. After seeing this trailer for the first time, I immediately sent a frantic message to Grantland editor Emily Yoshida, telling her to watch it immediately. Our conversation begins to highlight what these trailers, especially this one with the use of the perfect Act 1 finale “One Day More,” are doing to our souls:

Yoshida: Nooo.
Yoshida: I’m already hyperventilating and I haven’t even clicked.
Browne: The middle.
Browne: Oh my god.
Yoshida: I don’t know what to do.
Yoshida: With how I feel.
Yoshida: Right now.
Browne: My soul has left my body.
Browne: I’m watching myself click “replay” from 10 feet above
Yoshida: I really felt like I was living in the future while I watched that.

It’s just a lot.


Side Effects (February 8 )

Silver: Ever since Out of Sight, I’ve been a sucker for, and admittedly an apologist for, some of Steven Soderbergh’s films. (At the time of its release, I was a staunch defender of The Good German. But in time I was able to see that I was on the wrong side of that argument.) I admire his propensity to embrace vagueness. Indecisiveness with a plot is a bold choice when almost all of his film narratives are deeply rooted in the traditional genre structure (comedy, drama, thriller, caper, spy, etc.). Which makes distributors and marketers happy, because genre films are much easier to market. But just take a look at the trailers for his last three films — Contagion, Haywire, and Magic Mike — none of the final products are as straightforward or snappy as their trailers. By no means are these films “bad.” Quite contrary, I feel Soderbergh has been on a nice hot streak as he draws closer to retirement (and Side Effects pairs him with his very talented Contagion and The Informant writer Scott Z. Burns). But there is a pattern — Hollywood trailer/indie-style movie — so although this trailer makes the film seem reminiscent of The Pelican Brief, in the end, I’m assuming it’ll be more like The Constant Gardener.

Browne: Rooney Mara is a very captivating actress. She also is a very interesting-looking woman, in the best way possible. Based off of this trailer, even though I was, admittedly, confused as to what was going on, every word, glance, and movement she made was something I became increasingly invested in. She seems to really become her characters. I can’t tell if this is going to be a great film or not (even though Law, Zeta-Jones, Mara, Tatum is a solid foursome), but I guarantee she kills her role. Maybe enough to carry the film.


Silent Night (November 30)

Silver: The bottom of the remake barrel clearly had a few more shavings to scrape off, because now it appears that schlocky exploitation horror films from the ’80s are being remade. To clarify, millions of dollars are being spent to re-create cheaply made films at which more people laughed than screamed. Silent Night appears to be a semi-serious update of 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, which is primarily remembered for two things: One, upon its release, PTAs around the country had it banned for its depiction of a murderous Santa, and two, its clever tagline, “You’ve made it through Halloween, now try and survive Christmas.”

But I’d like to take a moment to personally reach out to Malcolm McDowell. My dear, dear Alex, what are you doing in this film? Your earnest line delivery, although hilarious, is not nearly enough to ever get me to see this film. And since you’ve now starred in two remakes of holiday horror films (this and Rob Zombie’s Halloween), should we expect to see you in the reboots of Home Sweet Home, April Fools, or, cinema gods forbid, Sorority House Massacre? Those have to be close to, if not already in, production.

Browne: This looks amazingly bad. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to be going all-in, one way or the other. A movie about a Santa killer has to be either a complete joke or completely serious and horrific and ghastly. It’s trying to do both, based on what the trailer seems to be showing, which just makes it feel like the worst movie of the holiday season.


The Grandmaster (December 18)

Silver: Urban battles painted in muted grays, blacks, seen though wide-angle lenses, and played out in slow motion. Snowy landscapes, shrouded in white, with glimpses of vivid blues and reds. And the atmospheric steam from a train enveloping hand-to-hand conflicts, framed in 16:9, with rich yellows and browns. These are just a few of the gorgeous images we see in Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster. Even the most minor of details seem to flawlessly coalesce — the shot composition, combined with the speed of the rainfall, onto the brim of a hat placed on a very specific angle, revealing a stern, washed-out fighter with a unique pencil-thin mustache. Without understanding a single word, I was riveted by this trailer. It’s utterly gorgeous. And then I opened the film’s IMDb page. The Grandmaster is about martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee? No wonder the fight choreography is outstanding. Until I saw this trailer I had no idea this film existed. Now, all I can think about is if I can book my kid a babysitter this far in advance, because there is no way I am missing this film opening weekend.

Browne: I’ll babysit your kid, Silver. While this looks great and all, it’s coming out a week before Les Mis. Sorry, The Grandmaster, I will have to catch you sometime in March. I just hope your kid isn’t utterly terrified by the French Revolution.


Rust and Bone (November 23)

Silver: I didn’t learn much about Rust and Bone from this trailer, but the music used makes me feel like this film is too important to miss. Now I don’t know if this is true, but I’m more than willing to give a shot to a film starring Marion Cotillard and featuring killer whales and bare-knuckle parking lot boxing.

Browne: Using M83 songs in your trailer almost isn’t fair. When matched up to dramatic visuals, it will make you feel things and the end result is you walking away thinking you’ve seen the greatest trailer of all time. This is what happened with Cloud Atlas’s use of the incredible track “Outro” from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which proved to be misleading, given that the trailer outshone the film. I’m not saying this is what’s happening with Rust and Bone‘s use of “My Tears Are Becoming a Sea,” but I’d be careful before I got too excited by this film. Just sayin’.


Movie 43 – Red Band Teaser #2 NSFW (January 25)

Silver: For me, Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin were the highlights of Movie 43’s first red-band trailer, mostly because of this exchange:

Culkin: I can’t believe you sucked off that hob for magic beans.
Stone [teary-eyed, sincerely]: He was a wizard.

And, despite the focus of this latest trailer being on Jason Sudeikis’s hilarious DVD-extras barrage of descriptions of Kristen Bell’s lady parts (“It looks like she sat on a Muppet” — that’s comedy, folks), Stone and Culkin still are the standouts.

Stone: You look like you slept in a soup kitchen urinal.
Culkin: You look like you bathed in the Dumpster behind the abortion clinic.

That’s a tête-à-tête I can look forward to.

Browne: This film is beginning to feel like a series of MADtv sketches. This is not a good thing.


The Last Stand (January 18)

Silver: Since they’re tapping in and tickling the exact same part of my movie-geek brain, instead of writing a new post here, I’m just going to start by reposting some of my thoughts on Stallone’s Bullet to the Head (with some slight tweaks) from last week. I feel they more than adequately sum up my feelings about The Last Stand.

“Sometimes vanilla is the best flavor. Of all the trailers released for Bullet to the Head The Last Stand, this one delivers the most generic and uninspired look at the film. Thus, I find it to be the most effective. I now can’t wait to see this film. Unless he’s strapping on boxing gloves and hoisting up his patriotic shorts robotic looking prosthetics or a fake pregnancy belly, all I want from my Sylvester Stallone Schwarzenegger films is a plot I know the ending to when I sit down in the theater, some clever wisecracks, and ludicrous action sequences that feel like they were conceived by noun, verb, and adjective balls falling out of a Bingo spinner.”

That said, since The Last Stand seems to embrace its cheesiness and have a sense of humor, I am looking forward to it slightly more than to Bullet to the Head.

Browne: The idea of Arnold as a proud small-town sheriff is almost enough for me to see a film. And then, on top of that, this kind of looks watchable, something I did not expect to ever get from him. So yeah, I’m excited for this, much more than for Sly’s new film. I get the comparison, but for me, based on the plots, it’s like comparing apples and oranges.


Warm Bodies (February 1)

Silver: I’m very rarely surprised when I click play on a trailer. I usually have read or heard some tidbits about the film. In the case of Warm Bodies I knew nothing, because after seeing the first promotion stills, Nicholas Hoult looking like a zombiefied Robert Pattinson, I chose to disregard Warm Bodies as just another film trying grab the emo-vamp demo. And I honestly can’t even tell you why I clicked play on the trailer, but I am so glad I did. This film looks great. And pitch-perfect — writer-director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness and 50/50) has assembled the right cast and treated the material in a way that makes Warm Bodies seem to exist somewhere between Shaun of the Dead and Twilight.

Browne: Hopefully the place that it lives is 93 percent Shawn of the Dead and 7 percent Twilight. After seeing the trailer, that seems to be the case. I found myself smiling throughout this entire clip, something quite rare when things of the zombie/vampire persuasion are involved (because I hate them), but this is a great way to fuse the fad with a simple teenage outsider love story. I’m sold.


Jurassic Park 3D (April 5)

Silver: I can’t say for sure, but the moment I became a film fan was either when I first saw Han shoot Greedo or when Doc Brown reconnected the power cables. But what I am certain of is that Friday, June 11, 1993, was the day my simple enjoyment of movies hit 88 mph and I started down the path to über-cine-geekdom. That was a day filled with firsts. It was the first time I chose a movie over a so-called “life event” (I missed my eighth-grade graduation), and since I got online at 6 a.m. for a 10:10 a.m. screening, it was the first time I sat online at the famed Ziegfeld movie theater in New York City. So although John Williams’s score booming out of theater-size speakers and the chance to see the “Welcome to Jurassic Park” scene on the big screen again would be enough for me to purchase a ticket, nostalgia will certainly be the more powerful force. 3-D does nothing for me. I would have rather had Universal spend the movie for a conversion to a larger projection format — 72mm or even IMAX.

Browne: I can’t wait to hear John Williams in 3-D. I have a choreographed dance to the theme and it will be performed in the back aisle, much to the chagrin of those to the immediate right and left.


Filed Under: Les Miserables, Movies, The Last Stand, Trailers of the Week, World War Z

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert