Trailers of the Week: Dark Shadows, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Snow White, and More

Dark Shadows (May 11)

Silver:This trailer leaves me completely conflicted.

Here’s what I liked:
*There are some moments that are quite funny. Although we’ve seen the out-of-time, out-of-place gag before, I get a kick of out of the way Depp’s recently awoken 16th-century vampire attacks the TV for being evil sorcery. The juxtaposition of Karen Carpenter singing, and Depp’s line “Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!” makes me smile every time.

*The love/hate relationship between Depp and Eva Green, playing the witch who turned Depp’s Barnabus into a vampire. Love the shot of her at 1:31 sliding across the piano. Green’s striking red lips pop out from her already semi-pale complexion (clearly heightened here by makeup). And the way she rolls her neck and stares off-camera is very Burton-esque.

*The rest of the cast. Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley, and of course Helena Bonham Carter.

*Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel’s stark visuals. Aside from a few jolts of red, the color landscape of the film feels empty, almost black and white. Very cool.

What I didn’t like:

*The trailer is tonally a mess, and can’t decide what kind of film it’s trying to sell. I’m a Burton and Depp fan, so there’s no need to sell me, but during a packed summer, filmgoers better have a clear and enticing understanding of what they’re going to go see, or as we’ve seen with a film like John Carter, they may opt to just not go. What’s more, Dark Shadows does not own its opening weekend. It’ll be battling for box office with Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator. Warner Bros. better have a killer second trailer coming … and soon.

*Some moments intended to be funny or dramatic fall really flat, and in some ways are cringe-worthy: “We don’t have horses. We have a Chevy”; Michelle Pfeiffer’s earnest delivery of the line, “Fight on, Barnabus. Fight on for all of us”; and the trailer’s button, the back-and-forth about being stoned. Great googly moogly.

*Burton’s over-reliance on CGI. What made Burton so geek-worthy back in the ’80s and early ’90s was his heavy use of practical sets, props, and effects. Audiences felt like they could actually touch everything they saw in his films. There’s no doubt that use of computers has allowed Burton’s imagination and visual style to grow, but there’s no denying that it’s also taken a lot of the quirkiness and uniqueness out of his work.

Browne: Thanks, Dan, for leaving me one thing to talk about. The soundtrack. As weird as I think this film is going to be (not necessarily in the great way), I can’t pretend like the use of Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly,” T.Rex’s “Get It On,” and Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” didn’t make me smile. Other Eva Green-related things also made me smile, but at the end of the day I’m still just really confused. I’m also completely over vampires, which apparently is an unfortunate truth, given that every other movie is about vampires.

Sound of My Voice (April 27)

Silver: Coming out of Sundance, I’d heard buzz surrounding Sound of My Voice, but didn’t know what the film was about. And with no ill will toward it, I didn’t pay attention to the slew of viral elements released on the web the last few weeks. But now, after seeing the trailer, I regret it all. I wish I’d been on top of this film from the start. It looks tremendous. The quiet intimacy of the unfolding events only looks to heighten the terror and emotional and metal stakes. The film’s minimalist nature — two journalists go undercover to investigate a cult, whose leader states that she’s from the future — appears to lay a fertile groundwork for the filmmaker and performers to explore the depths of the narrative. I’d also like to give the filmmakers props for appearing to bring on Major League Baseball player Victor Martinez to choreograph what appears to be one of cinema’s all-time great handshakes (@ 1:11).

Browne: They can’t be serious with that handshake. There are thousands of handshakes out there, plus the 500 still out there waiting to be made up, and they picked THIS ONE? Unreal.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8)

Silver: Most of the primary voice performers in the Madagascar series are beyond rich (supplemented by that Fresh Prince money, I think Jada owns her own island), so instead of just sighing in pain and ripping into the film, I’m going to choose to look on the bright side. Madagascar 3 is charity, it’s keeping David Schwimmer employed and solvent. The guy’s got kids, after all. In no way is this film yet another hackneyed DreamWorks (the minor leagues of studio animation) offering with bug-eyed characters.

Browne: I’m floored. I just laughed for three minutes at an animated cartoon about animals doing high jinks and shenanigans while trying to get back to America. Like I was LOL, literally. That’s a very good sign for this film, because over the past few years I’ve become a coldhearted man when it comes to non-human films. I might take my little cousin to see this eight times.

Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)

Browne: We have never run so many different trailers about the same film — this is starting to get ridiculous. Why they are leaking this film like a mixtape, I haven’t the slightest clue. What’s your take, Daniel?

Silver: I’m sick of this movie already. It pains me that I’m actually semi-interested in this film, despite the fact I can see through the marketers’ poor attempt to sell this film as a Lord of the Rings spinoff. I just want it to come out already, so the barrage of (seemingly) new weekly videos can stop and my divergent emotions can subside.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter – Trailer no. 2 (June 22)

Silver: I’ll normally see anything (I believe I was one of 10 people in this country to purchase a ticket to the unwatchable Let’s Go to Prison), but until I have a better understanding of why Abraham Lincoln is fighting vampires, this film may wind up a rental. I’m more than willing to suspend disbelief, but right now these two elements just feel mashed together for no other reason than “it might be cool.” I’ve gone on in previous posts about how a good piece of horror or sci-fi should in some way act as a metaphor for something … anything (i.e., Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead was an allegory for the civil rights movement). So, as director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) and producer Tim Burton are both lovers and students of the horror genre, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I just wish that 20th Century Fox would show less action and provide slightly more plot.

Browne: I’m willing to accept the fact that Snow White is an action star, but ABRAHAM LINCOLN DID NOT HUNT VAMPIRES. I PROMISE.

Cosmopolis (TBD)

[PLEASE NOTE: Possibly somewhat NSFW for like a split-second. You were warned.]

Silver: “I’m looking for more … Show me something I don’t know.” Time to get excited, Droogies; we’ve finally been given our first look at David Cronenberg’s return to the shadowy world of science fiction. It’s been 13 years since he dipped his toe into these murky and mind-bendy waters with the underrated eXistenZ, and based on the images garnered from this fleeting international trailer it does not look like Cosmopolis disappoints — it’s got violence, sex, drugs … all the key elements to a promising Cronenberg experience. Pattinson looks suited for the role, but who am I to say? Last piece of cinema I saw him in he was painfully dying from the Avada Kedavra curse.

Browne: I like this rebellious Robert Pattinson career move. It’s like Britney’s “I’m a Slave 4 U,” but with fewer orgies and less heavy breathing.

Filed Under: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Snow White and the Huntsman, Trailers of the Week

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert